Being more human in business?

23 Aug 2018 / 22:01 H.

    WHILE training one of my clients early one morning, we were discussing business. To some extent, I like talking to my clients about their businesses, how they run it, what inspires them and maybe learn something from them. In the course of the conversation, I recall I said to him ruefully, "I'm a lousy businessman". He looked at me pointedly and responded, "That means you're a good human!". And we both laughed.
    It may seem funny but I am sure everyone can relate to how businesses have duped them, have spewed corporate rhetoric about "sustainability" or "corporate social responsibility" when it comes across transparently as just that – corporate rhetoric.
    I recall how my insurance company just changed my agent with no notice whatsoever to me, to my agent and the new agent, all on the pretext that it was "in my best interest". Of course, it wasn't. It was in their best interest!
    A long time ago, I remember my sister-in-law saying something along the lines of why I would think businesses should behave like they have a conscience, because they don't. They are vehicles to make money and that's it. But surely, that cannot just be it.
    Humans, after all, drive businesses. Without them, businesses are nothing, just a concept. To my mind, this means humans within the business aren't really behaving like humans.
    Recently, I had a harrowing time because both my parents were admitted into hospital. My mother ended up in the geriatric ward, and on the second day during my visit, I found her clutching a pamphlet. As I prised it from her, I found it to be a flyer for an old folks home. My mother suffers from dementia, and she isn't very clear on her perception and cognitive skills. But it was very clear that she was very upset.
    She told me, "Someone gave me this (the old folks home flyer) because they saw I had no visitors". It took me hours to placate her and tell her that the whole family loved her and no one was going to abandon her or put her into an old folks home. Inside, I was seething with rage to think that someone took the opportunity to pass these advertising pamphlets out to the seniors in the geriatric ward. I could see a number of these pamphlets clutched in other patients' hands or on their tables.
    Don't get me wrong, homes for the elderly play an important role, especially for those who have no one at all to look after them or who need special care. But later on, as I related this to my extended family, one of my aunts said, "It's terrible for them to do this to people in hospital. Already they are ill, and this might make them more dejected or drive them to lose hope".
    Would a good human have done what this business did? If not, then how did that human, functioning in his capacity of a business, do this? It is almost like believing that if you are a good son, you would treat your parents well, but if you are a good businessman, you'd treat your parents worse so long as you can make more money by doing so. The mind boggles!
    Why then are businesses treated differently than humans? In other countries, concepts like corporate manslaughter, environmental protection etc are slowly being recognised. After all, if a human can commit such an act, why not a corporation, especially as corporations are run by humans. Yes, businesses and corporations are legal concepts, nothing but air and philosophy to help drive the economy. But surely knitted into the concept of making money is the concept of accountability? Of not harming others? Or do we abandon all principles in pursuit of making money?
    Daniel has a deep passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments:

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