Two signs caught my attention this past weekend. A roadside marquee of a manufacturing corporation near my home says, “If your beliefs do not affect what you do, what good are they”? The second “sign” that caught my attention is the title of an article, written by Candy Deemer and published in AMA Seminars (October 2005 - June 2006), “Bring the Heart Back into Corporate America.”
Have American corporations lost their heart, and if so, who is to blame?
Ms. Deemer?s article discusses the need for corporations to (among other things), put values before value (i.e. adhere to core values, even if that results in less profit); and the need for corporations to always be trustworthy. However, I reflect back on the truth that a corporation is a legal entity?a corporation cannot do anything by itself. Corporations take action (or fail to do so) only through the actions or inactions of its decision-makers. Those decision-makes are not only the officers and upper management, but also include employees on the front line of the corporation—line employees, customers service representatives and sales persons, for example.
If America?s corporations have lost their hearts, it can only be because either (1) the individuals who make up that corporation have lost their hearts or (2) the individual employees (from the CEO all the way through to the entry-level position) are not acting in their jobs with the courage of their beliefs and convictions. How many CEOs are willing to mistreat, burn-out or discard employees to make more profit? How many middle managers fail to take a stand for fair treatment of their subordinates, perhaps because it could jeopardize their promotion? How many Human Resources professionals ?look the other way? rather than speak out for what they know to be the right thing to do? How many entry-level employees sacrifice their own beliefs and take action that violates their own core values simply to keep their jobs?
The only way to change the hearts of corporations is to change the hearts of people. Are my core values more important to me than money? Am I always trustworthy? A call for corporations to ?have a heart,? must necessarily begin with taking a hard look at ourselves.