The news is filled with examples of unscrupulous business practices and hostile workplaces. Whether in finance, government, retail, or even education, such organizations let anger, impulse, ignorance and greed overrule empathy, calm, transparency, or operating for a greater good. But there’s a cure for this toxic capitalism that actually strengthens a company’s health and sustainability. It drives workforce and customer loyalty, and helps leaders maintain clear vision in the face of endless disruption. Founded on ethical business principles, it’s well articulated in a useful, inspiring new book by Shawn Vij, Moral Fiber: Awakening Corporate Consciousness (Lioncrest, 2017).
Vij is a business veteran who has logged a lot of miles as an executive and a consultant. He’s been connected to a number of heavy hitters, from VISA to Ford Motor Company to Microsoft. He didn’t always preach the secular gospel of conscious, ethical practices to industry and business. His was more of the traditional, cutthroat sensibility, that “nothing personal, it’s just business” approach. But he wasn’t happy, he wasn’t feeling entirely effective, and those around him didn’t seem to be thriving either, no matter their position within the corporate ranks. Vij saw the profit over people doctrine taking a toll on everyone, from the C-suite to the entry level.
A chance meeting triggered a profound shift in his perspective: Vij found himself face to face with an avatar of all things conscious, the Dalai Lama. It’s been said that being in the presence of His Holiness can have the affect of shattering one’s worldview in a moment, and that seems to be what happened to Vij. He found himself staring into a metaphorical mirror, and he did not like what he saw.
A complete self-reckoning followed, in which Vij assessed the motivations for his career as well as his life. He started looking at the leaders he admired, and realized they shared core values that go far beyond the normal bounds of business strategy. These are executives who care about the world and what’s happening to it. They execute business decisions within the framework of this larger perspective. And compellingly, their companies thrive on that approach. Vij had expected to find successful yet ethical businesses a rarity. Instead he found a growing trend, though it may not be growing fast enough for this turbulent, needy world.
As Vij explains in Moral Fiber, a compassionate, honest, and ethical approach to business will forge a stronger organization on many levels. Employees are far more engaged and able to align with a company with human values — and that may drive their performance, and keep them from hunting for another employer. Customers recognize and appreciate ethical companies, feeling far more loyal to brands that care. Leaders can rest assured they are operating from a solid compass, and not flinch in the face of pressure to do something less than honorable.
Certainly, we’re seeing leadership doing that now: Apple’s CEO Tim Cook publicly condemned Trump’s categorization of the Charlottesville tragedy. NFL owners have taken a knee with their players, and network executives are coming to the defense of their reporters against spurious claims of “fake news.” We’ve seen a cruise line sacrifice a profitable ocean journey to ferry hurricane victims from Puerto Rico to safety. Department store retailers take positions in #grabyourwallet campaigns, and smaller businesses reach out to their own communities in times of trouble and hardship.
These are anything but isolated events. They’re becoming more commonplace, part of a new vanguard that Vij argues is critical to our continued growth not only as an economy, but also as a society on the whole. For anyone who runs or works in a for-profit organization, this book will be an eye-opener and a savvy guidebook. Vij is smart, inspiring, and above all, extremely convincing. In Moral Fiber, he presents a welcome and well-crafted antidote to toxic business tactics, as well as an in-depth course on what it means to be a truly effective leader today.
For more about Shawn Vij and Moral Fiber, visit the author’s website.