People want to see humanity in business today, more than ever. And one of your biggest advantages in today’s economy is that you are actually human.
In his book, The Corporation, law professor Joel Bakan explains that while a corporation enjoys the legal status of a person, it is free of the social and legal forces that ensure good behavior from real people, such as empathy, public disapproval, and the threat of imprisonment.
As a result, corporations have grown bigger and more powerful. Roughly three hundred corporations control roughly a quarter of the world’s wealth, and they continue to prioritize "profit at all costs". But this Profit Motive, unrestrained by any mitigating virtue, can lead to some deeply anti-social, and sociopathic behaviors.
These profit goals have come at the 'cost' of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the pursuit of profit at all costs has led to some of the world's biggest problems, including (but not limited to) obesity, stagnating wages, crippling debt, population displacement, abusive labor practices, and exploitative pursuit of cheap energy sources that cause the maldevelopment that continues to haunt every corner of the world.
“Unlike the human beings who inhabit it, the corporation is singularly self-interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context.” -Joel Bakan
Corporate managers frequently make decisions that run counter to long-term interests of the public and even their own shareholders, as the 2008 financial crisis, and the 2020 pandemic have both illustrated. But these derelictions are not an unavoidable consequence of the corporate legal structure.
The rise of modern business created new wealth, new comforts, new patterns of living, and many new problems, including population displacement, the dissemination of traditional cultures, abusive labor practices, environmental disasters, and the exploitative pursuit of cheap minerals and energy sources - may of the causes of the maldevelopment that haunts most of the world. But that model is unsustainable, and it’s coming to an end.
People are tired of being exploited by big businesses with psychopathic tendencies. And they want to feel like their bond is deeper than a mere transaction, and rooted in emotional connection, shared values, and mutual understanding. And that creates an opportunity for an entirely new kind of entrepreneur. And some of the most impressive examples of social entrepreneurship have come about in response to the problems created by the "success" of businesses.