Social Responsibility

I had the opportunity to have a great career in business with a great company. I spent 30 years growing with the company and then transitioned into a new career. The new career is teaching business at a local college. I have been able to partner with Missions@WP and travel to Indian reservations in South Dakota and internationally to Honduras to help people understand the benefits of business. Sometimes I think business is only looked upon as being something negative, something that takes advantage of people while making the stockholder wealthy. In some cases this is true, but is it always that way?

I believe that free enterprise can help individuals, reservations, and countries improve their standard of living. I do believe in profit, but I don’t believe in exploitation of people for one’s own benefit. I also believe that business can be a force for positive change. The question that automatically comes to mind when thinking about this kind of topic  is what examples are there of companies that make a profit, but also provide for employees, customers, and the community they operate within?

United Parcel Service (UPS) is a $42.6 Billion company that delivers 14.8 million packages within 200 countries. At least once a week my wife receives a package from QVC that is delivered by UPS. UPS is profitable, but is that all that matters? My son-in-law in Tacoma works for UPS and has for many years. Is UPS a socially responsible business? What are the facts?

From an employee’s perspective it appears UPS is very responsible. The company provides a livable wage, healthcare  benefits, a stock purchase plan, and a chance to advance. The company also provides tuition assistance to help employees become better educated. This is just one example of social responsibility. Another area that gives an indication of the level of care UPS has is the fact that they have over 1500 vehicles that use alternative fuels, such as electricity, propane, natural gas and hydrogen. Another indicator is that UPS donates approximately $43 million dollars to fight hunger and improve literacy. They do this while encouraging their employees to volunteer.

This is a company that recognizes that business is important, but also that business is personal. UPS approaches business from a sustainable platform. What this means is they adhere to a plan that has three pillars, the first being Economic, the second Social and the last pillar is Environmental.

The economic pillar is enhanced through good business planning and execution. They run a tight ship. They make a profit and therefore can give money back to the community, which involves the social pillar. This, in addition to the great wages, etc, means they have created a solid social pillar. The last pillar involves the environment. UPS uses many airplanes and trucks to do their business. They are constantly trying to adjust their carbon footprint with the use of alternative fuels.

All of us have to work! We need to earn money to pay rent, buy food, and maybe go to a movie. It does not make any difference what industry, whether it is a not-for-profit or for-profit, or government or non-government, we all need to work at a job. Business is a reality, and how we do business is critical. We can make a profit while making the world a better place, or we can steal, kill, and destroy the communities we operate in while making maybe just a little more. The choice really is ours.

If I choose to work not just to make money, but to care for others, then I have a purpose. If I have a purpose in what I do as a job, as the old adage says, I will never work a day in my life. Just maybe I’ll be able to make a difference in the world. I strongly believe that free enterprise can make a difference if our motives are correct. We can take or we can give, it is up to us.

And that is my thought for the day!

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