None of our businesses were designed according to the social teaching of the Church. They were designed to grow and prosper, and to return profits not needed by the business to shareholders. And there is nothing wrong with that unless greed takes over in our quest to maximize shareholder return, and others are harmed. The Church doesn't condemn capitalism as it does socialism. But it points to examples of businesses that are run for the sole benefit of the owners, and shows how that distorts a capitalism dedicated to serving all by providing goods and services widely at a low cost.
The challenge is to understand more deeply the principal tenets of Catholic Social Doctrine, and to discover ways to apply them to our organizations. Here are some ideas to consider for each of the four major principles of social doctrine.
- Help employees grow in human virtues, which enriches their character and dignity (see my other website: www.CoreValuesGroup.com)
- Thoroughly review your company's training program. Is it minimalist? Does each employee receive enough structured on-the-job training to know how to work? Do you test that to be sure the training is working?
- An employee's dignity is defined in the family as well as at work. See how you can help improve the family life of employees. It's not all about needing more money, though this may be an issue at times. What advice can you give? What professionals can you point him or her to who can help? If there are problems at home, they will spill over at work unless they are addressed. You can sometimes help.
- Find out about employees' other talents. Ask them where in your organization they could employ those talents. There may be a more suitable position for that person, leveraging unique talents.
UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF GOODS
- Adopt several families (perhaps through your parish) who need food and shelter. Provide for their needs out of the company's profits.
- Create a "B" corporation (Benefit corporation) whose primary purpose is to achieve a social or environmental good. "B" corporations are now a valid corporate form in 20 states, including Delaware.
- Create an employee profit sharing plan that benefits everyone, not just senior managers.
- Use a portion of each year's annual profits to improve employee benefits.
- Create a fund that can be used when an employee faces a sudden financial stress.
- Foster a spirit of "unity of purpose" by being sure all employees are informed of the Company's mission and strategy. It's not enough to send a memo. What concrete organizational processes can be created to create, improve and validate this communication?
- Engage employees in identifying the company's stakeholders. These will include employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, and members of the community who live near the company's facilities.
- Feature by name a "stakeholder of the week" describing who that person is, how s/he is a stakeholder in the company, how s/he benefits from the work done by the company, etc. Make it personal! Don't have customers, have Jack Jones, Jennifer Smith, Amanda Gomez. And never, ever, identify your employees by a number or code.
- Eliminate one or more layers of management, so decision making can be pushed down to the lowest level where competency exists. You will save money here!
- Invite employees to organize the floor where they work. They know who they need to interact with to accomplish the company's business.
- Create an environment where employees can act without seeking permission. Sure, mistakes will be made but more good will come of it. And the speed of decision-making will increase dramatically.
- Review of the principles of "lean manufacturing" and "lean service groups" and apply them in your organization.
WHAT ELSE? Please send your ideas to me at Bill@CatholicCEO.net