$ Ethical Business $
Why is there a segment on business in a website focussed on personal development, spirituality and all that space cadet stuff?
We all have to survive, that's the first point, and in the modern era business is a reality and it is a metaphor that is all pervasive. Secondly if you are going to do something, anything, you should give it your all and do it to best of your ability and we should all be valued for doing it both in symbolic exchange terms (that is what money really is) and in the other ways that are less easy to quantify. Business offers avenues for peaceful effective action, and tests how ideologically sound we are when faced with the temptations of success, wealth, power and possession.
$ If we want to bring about a consensual non-violent change in the way the world and society operates then we need to change its priorities, relationships and its values. Business is all about priorities, value (and values) and relationship. The problem is so many doing it forget or have never known this. They narrow their perspectives to their specific targets and their own efforts, forgetting the reality of cooperation that is both the method and the background that allows them to achieve. So we need to change the way we do business and educate those who do not understand how best to do it.
Can Be an avenue
Lateral Analysis is a way of thinking, creating, understanding and doing business as an expression of our values. The scandals of the last year show that ethics are important to wealth. The 'success' of capitalism as an expression Western European culture over the last few centuries as a system of trust, believe it or not.
The modern system is based on seduction and trust, it is so ambient that we don't even notice it. We who are thoughtful outsiders in our scepticism definitely don't notice it. We focus on the negatives, on the costs. We are just as likely to idealise cooperative elements of exotic cultures as the businesswoman or man romanticises his achievements, turning them into expressions of their individual power.
An example of the difference between what happens when a hurricane, earthquake or drought, hits a so-called developed nation and when they hit parts of Africa, Central Asia or the southern Americas.
The cost in lives and property is substantial different. The developed nations build houses that can be trusted when faced with disaster. Rich areas support poor areas through government systems, insurance and charitable organisations - group effort is more effective. In poorer countries that have less well-developed systems of social trust many more people die, much more property is destroyed and government and other systems (capitalist and charitable) can't be trusted to take their responsibilities in supporting the cleanup and rebuilding through redistribution.
In fact, no one wants to admit it, but a disaster in a developed country is a boost to the economy, because so many people get busy taking care of the people and rebuilding. Whilst in poor countries it can lead to widespread famine and war affecting everyone.
The business conservatives like the illusion of individual effort, of feeling like competition winners, of the false sense of freedom and power it gives them. But if there were not systems of trust and trustworthy systems their business would be impossible or at least their wealth would be limited. Wealth and power in the so-called third world is based on who has the most people holding the most guns, success is based on the generation of fear. In western European based cultures power and success is based on seduction, on the inspiration of desire and trust. Without the a culture that supported merit based judgements of people so success can come to most who can show their capacities based on broad education, a police force that is politically neutral and better than gangsters, a tax and charity based redistribution of wealth which allows even the poorest can feel the system is trustworthy and power sharing and exchange that embraces difference But the people power movements of the last decade or so demonstrate, when those who normally prefer not to exercise their responsibilities as citizens do it then societies and government change quickly and peacefully.
Those of us who would like to see great change have to do everything we can to bring it about but remember that it will only come when society as a whole is ripe for it, otherwise we will become just another minority imposing their will on those who seek security above all else.
Business is an avenue to peaceful change. The Bodyshop is only one example of the potential ways of doing business in different ways, based on respect for integrity. It is up to us to provide examples of alternative ways of structuring our relationships so as to demonstrate the practicalities of new ways to relate and be in the world.
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