These days, business runs with self-interest as its primary motivation. It operates in a way that is largely unacceptable to Americans. In fact, in a recent report card released by Edelman, one of the largest public relations firms in the world, Americans graded business as barely passing on corporate responsibility, with 40% getting a grade of D or F and 18% grading business with an A or B. Americans desire to do business with companies that “make a demonstrably positive difference” for customers and our country.
What would be your company’s grade?
We can link responsibility to business ethics through the concept of stewardship. A good steward is one who carefully and wisely manages the property of another. Like responsible trustees, good stewards maintain or increase the value of the resources entrusted to them. Put another way, stewardship is what parents do for their kids when they look to the long term for the sake of ensuring their future well-being.
Stewardship ethics provides a foundation for sustainable business practices. It calls upon businesses to consider both the immediate and long-term impact of their operations on the communities in which they operate and the ecologies upon which they depend. These days, a commitment to sustainability is an important part of what being a good corporate citizen is all about. Companies committed to stewardship ethics understand that business success depends on taking the interests of all its stakeholders into account.
It is time for all of us to step it up and embody a stewardship ethic that will bring our companies and our communities into American's lives in an A+ way.