Keeping The True Purpose Of Business Top Of Mind
It is a formula destined for failure when the objective of a business becomes the acquisition of wealth instead of growth of the company and its services, remarked an ethics professor here.
The observation came during an “Ethics Awareness Luncheon,” sponsored last month by the New York Chapter of the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society featuring Dr. Ronald F. Duska, professor of ethics from The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
The lecture, entitled “Harry Potter, 9/11& Enron: Ethics Implications for Financial Services Professionals and CPCUs” drew an analogy between the moral equivalents found in the characters from the best selling books by J.K. Rowling, the terror attacks and the corporate scandal.
From an ethics stand-point, Duska compared Enron to a scene in “Harry Potter” where Harrys cousin, Dudley receives 35 gifts for his birthday and becomes upset because it is the same number of gifts he received the year before. He wants one more gift.
“Think of Enron as Dudley,” Duska said. “Dudley is an accumulator. One who wants more and more for the sake of wanting more.”
The analogy, he pointed out, is that Enrons executives lost their focus for their company, leading to its downfall.
“Businesses do not exist to maximize profits,” Duska opined. “They exist to provide goods and service to others.”
The drive behind a business, he added, should be to maximize profits, but profits should not be the goal.
“Counter to conventional wisdom, I want to suggest that while accumulating wealth is a goal, a company begs for trouble when it becomes the primary goal, for then there is no compass to use to check ones direction,” Duska reflected.
Unfortunately, many can be tempted and must be restrained from “losing their soul” not in the spiritual sense, Duska suggested, but in the sense of what the business stands for.