Whether you live in a progressive, opportunity-filled country or one that is floundering in instability and strife, you will probably be able to point at more than one for-profit enterprise that is simply making things worse for everybody else. Whether they indiscriminately denude old-growth rainforests, operate factories that spew out harmful pollutants that cause respiratory diseases, or bully smaller mom-and-pop enterprises into closing down, there are businesses that seem to go against the greater good and pursue their own quest for growth and financial dominance.

It would seem that this idea of capitalism and free markets is starting to go against the grain of overall human prosperity and the betterment of civilization. After eschewing the kings and tyrants of old, have we just traded them in for merchant-lords and heartless corporate empires? It’s no big surprise that various intellectuals of our times are already pushing for yet another epic change in the way we distribute resources (and as a direct consequence, power), but the current system is well-entrenched, and most don’t see it giving in any time soon.

Focus back to the basic unit, the business. We have encouraged and even enforced these institutions to be good neighbors to us consumers and to its adversaries. Whether these measures are working, or humanity is losing ground to its own invention is something that is always up for debate.

When a company’s prime directive is to maximize profits and minimize expenditures, can laws and regulations really steer it towards the direction of being humanistic and moral? The news is always full of depressing stories of corporations inflicting harm upon others and even upon its own workforce. One would think that more laws and regulations are far from enough to create any lasting change.

If those who are at the helms of businesses cannot be made to behave via whip-cracking and threats, will positive reinforcement be able to do better? Treating corporations like little children seems wrong (they’re headed by supposedly mature adults), but given the way some of them have been behaving, this is something permissible.

Dangling carrots over these misbehaving asses might yield some short-term benefit, but the minute it ceases to become lucrative for them to follow, or they have found yet another unethical practice that ramps up their revenues. Within the heads and captains of industry, the impetus to do good must be seeded and allowed to grow. Morality should not be an afterthought or a pretty decoration; it must be the basis for all things that are done.

It Begins from Within
All of these enterprises from the humble food stall to the massive multinational conglomerates are owned and operated by people, and those that call the shots are the ultimate influencers of how a business behaves. The profit motive isn’t something that automatically makes a business immoral; that is something that is squarely on the shoulders of the operators of the enterprise.

If the entrepreneurs and boards of directors were to become more concerned with the welfare of the rest of the world, things will change for the better. If more effort is exerted to build a business that can scale up in growth to meet demand, and yet remain true to the ideals that we humans cherish, we might not need to alter the paradigms of our civilization, and manage to reach the stars, entrepreneurs and pioneers enjoying near-infinite growth and prosperity.

For those who are at the helm of a company, do consider the ideas that were shared. Those that have been motivated to starting a business, be certain that your goals are noble and that your future enterprise will bring more value to humanity, and not just bring in a pretty profit. There is room for morality in business, and it is up to you to make it.

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She has worked with various companies, big and small, and has been exposed to a variety of corporate cultures, picking and choosing from each one to form her own conception of a good company.

She is based in San Diego, California, and is currently hammering out the kinks on her gang’s blog, Word Baristas.