Magazine article Workforce Management

Good Works

Magazine article Workforce Management

Good Works

Article excerpt

Some companies recognize the need for financial performance and social, ethical and environmental performance.

BETWEEN THE LINES

PITY THE POOR CORPORATION. If you just went by the news you heard last month, you'd say it's an institution led by crooks (see Martha Stewart, sentenced to five months in prison and five months of house arrest, and Adelphia's John and Timothy Rigas, convicted of fraud and conspiracy). You'd think that handcuffs, not cuff links, are appropriate corporate attire (see Kenneth Lay, doing the now-familiar perp walk). You'd think a corporation is a place where women are routinely discriminated against and harassed (see Morgan Stanley's $54 million settlement of claims brought by women who said the firm froze them out of promotions and raises), and where business-development meetings are held at strip clubs.

Finally, big business has achieved star status-of the Fahrenheit 9/11 variety-with the release of a new documentary. The Corporation applies the DSM-IV, a standard diagnostic tool for mental-health professionals, and finds that the corporate "person" on the couch "fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a 'psychopath,' " according to the three filmmakers. (Both Michael Moore and Peter Drucker are among the other non-clinicians commenting on the behavior of corporations in this film, so you can factor that into your decision on whether or not to see it.)

Now just imagine that employees have these visions of the corporation in mind as they lie in bed on Monday morning. They mull over whether they're headed to work for the kind of institution that is led by greedy criminals, that discriminates against people on the basis of gender, that is as deranged as a serial killer. You can see why morale problems are rampant in so many companies.

Good news always gets less attention than bad news, and so at the risk of sounding a little like Pollyanna, I'll direct your attention to two new books that are an antidote to the notion that big business is always rapacious and focused on the bottom line to the exclusion of all other factors. The first is Profits with Principles: Seven Strategies for Delivering Value with Values, by Ira A. …

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