What is the value of morality? Well there is Heaven, which I hear is pretty good. Hell, which isn’t good at all. Then there is purgatory, which was described by St. Paul the apostle as being saved “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). But, for once, I don’t want to talk about its value after you die, I want to talk about the value of morality before you die. Specifically, I want to talk about the value of morality in business, especially as it regards employment.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
The alarm rings way too early. You get up for your morning shower and coffee. Somewhere between stripping down before running water that takes a curiously long time to get hot and the coffee that routinely burns your tongue as you chug it for the needed early morning energy boost, you begin dreading your day at work. The reasons are never the same. You hate your boss, hate the mission of the organization, hate the way in which the mission is fulfilled, hate the type of work or just simply hate those things because it’s better to feel something other than the malaise of the daily routine.
Perhaps you begin to wonder, is it me? Other people seem to at least tolerate the job, even though some less inspiring people are openly hostile to it. Then you get depressed, and there is a feeling of near hopelessness as the weeks turn into months and years at your some position. And yes, you are still unhappy with it.
What happens to you then? Some would drone on in their existence, filling up the gaps around work with things that make them happy, like family and friends. They use their paycheck as an excuse to keep coming back to their job, but if they were free from the constraints of a paycheck, they would leave this god-forsaken place to never think of it again.
Some, on the other hand, fill up the gaps around work with things that make them happy, alcohol, sex and drugs. They live not for sustainable happiness, but only for the fleeting exuberance of pleasure. Only when they have to face their own selves in an excruciating moment of silence to they realize their panoply of despair.
Ok, so what does morality have to do with this? Is a company supposed to be concerned about the personal moral lives of their employees? Not exactly, but wouldn’t it be nice if you worked somewhere, somewhere that had a culture that made each individual working there WANT to become a better person? It would be nice, I say, if there was a company that made me want to donate money and time to sponsored charitable organizations that I absolutely know help people who are down on their luck. It would be nice if there was a company that made me want to be a better husband, father, brother, wife, mother, sister, etc. It would be nice if there were a company that made me want to create an environment – social and natural – that isn’t only for my own generation’s use, but for my children’s, grandchildren’s, great-grandchildren’s, etc. generation’s use for hundreds and even thousands of years to come.
That would be nice. That is something I can get behind. That is something that I can get up in the morning for, regardless of the stress involved in the position. When I know that I’m part of something larger than my own personal desires, I feel that I’m doing something that extends beyond my own personal limitations. I am participating in something greater than myself. I am participating in the will of God. And it’s this feeling that I secretly long for, it’s this feeling in which more perfect happiness lies. For this company, I would work tirelessly for it. I would do whatever my employer would want, because I trust that they know what is best for the company. I don’t want to retire at 65; I want to work for this company until I’m physically or mentally unable to do so anymore. That is the value of this company; it has a great financial value, sure. But it’s social value to the common good is priceless, and I want to keep it that way.
So what is the value of morality to a company? Employee retention, increased productivity, efficiency, employee happiness, trust and much more. But what is the value of a business’ morality to society? Peace, environmental stewardship, stability, charity, well-educated children, many possessing a joy of family life, free distribution of a more just income, moral and intellectual development, etc. But what is more, a moral company influences and increases an entire society’s happiness.
The moral company exalts every community it touches into a higher dignity. Each person of that community begins to see him or her self as an individual with limitations, but as they grow in the virtue of humility, they begin to see themselves as a selfless part of something much greater than their own limitations. In that, each individual will find happiness. And when many individual’s discover this sense of happiness, so too will an entire society realize that they are living in a time of unparalleled peace.