When working in the ‘real world’, it can be difficult to run a business with integrity, make honest decisions with regarding co-workers, employees and follow every rule and regulation. It is much easier to cut corners, not follow a safety regulation, or even underpay an employee who doesn’t know they are being underpaid, but it definitely is not ethical. When it comes to being a working Catholic, we need to really focus upon right and wrong, which is where Force for Good: The Catholic Guide to Business Integrity by Brian Engelland explains how to handle situations that may come up in everyday businesses.
Here are a few ways to run an honest business or work ethically from someone who has dealt with some very difficult decisions and came out the other side with his integrity intact.
1. Success is okay
A business needs to make money in order to stay in business. After all, if a business is not making any profit or just breaking even, that business is not going to be open for very long. Only profitable businesses make new products and services which enhance the lives of its consumers. Where companies and executives get into trouble is when they sacrifice employees, products or consumers to keep these profits for themselves and not for new improvements, a living wage for employees or consumer safety in mind.
2. Ethics is all or nothing
A person with integrity will give the appropriate ethical response every time, no matter what the situation. If a company is ethical 98% of the time, but unethical 2% of the time, then it is not an ethical company.
3. Every human worker has dignity
Employees are not commodities to be taken advantage of, overworked and underpaid. They are to be respected, given appropriate time for rest and rejuvenation, and a just and living wage. They also have the right to a safe work environment, both physically and mentally.
4. A just wage doesn’t include cable and an iPhone
According to Dr. Engelland, there are four guidelines to follow when determining “just wage”:
- Wages should be sufficient to cover the typical obligations of the wage earner’s life, with enough left to save for a rainy day.
- Wages must be sustainable and within the normal economic capabilities of the firm.
- Wages should take into consideration the differences in preparation and skills necessary for different positions, so that the more difficult positions merit higher pay.
- Wages are set at levels that can support a robust economy that produces employment opportunities for everyone who desires work.
5. Honesty is the best policy
Companies need to be honest with their employees, and employees need to be honest with their employer. If information is withheld or skewed to favor the CEO’s point of view, or employee is dishonest about their past employment or cheat in the work they do, then the entire company can suffer from those lies. Only honesty can lead to good decisions for the whole of the company.
6. Personal property = freedom
Socialism is the idea that everything will be provided for the worker by the government, and all that is required is for every worker to put in time at work. While the idea sounds good, what happens when “they” increase the hours or quota to a number too high to meet? Then there is fear by the workers that if the new quotas aren’t being met all that was provided can be taken away. The workers would have no choice but to either comply or have their homes, cars, everything taken away.
Instead, when we own the property we have worked to purchase (can be a house, car, furniture) , then we have the freedom and choice to continue to work those extra hours or find a new job, without fear of those things being automatically taken away.
7. Advertise with dignity
It is common practice that “sex sells” when it comes to advertisements in today’s business world. But instead of accepting that practice, Dr. Engelland writes that “integrity demands that the use of manipulative, exploitative, and corruptive methods of persuasion should be avoided.”
Dr. Engelland is very well versed in his knowledge of how the business world really works and keeps the text interesting with witty stories and smart real world examples. This book is written for the Catholic business person, but it would also be a wise read for anyone who would like to work ethically while still make a profit, producing something good to serve the needs of society, and serving others well. Force for Good: The Catholic Guide to Business Integrity by Dr. Brian Engelland will lead every business person to work with honor and integrity in all the work they do.