The Corporate Dharma

Values which can awaken and manifest the highest moral and spiritual potential of business and how to implement them.

Key Perspectives

Dharmic values of business and how to implement them.

A sound value system is what differentiates long-term players from others.

- Narayana Murthy,
The Founder of Infosys.

Only clear, consistent and unwavering communication and practice of values can create a culture that can withstand and gain from turbulence.

- Azim Premji,
The Founder of Wipro Limited

As we have discussed briefly in the editorial of this issue, Dharma has two aspects: universal, which is common to all humanity and the individual or specific, which is unique to the nature of the individual or the community. We have to aspire for the universal and the highest values of Dharma but they have to be adapted to the unique nature of the individual or the community.

The Dharmic Values of Business

What are precisely the values, which can bring out and manifest the dharmic potential of business? Here is a broad outline of a system of values, principles and guidelines based on the dharmic vision of business.

  • Creating wealth for the society through efficient, economic and productive utilization of resources.
  • Producing high quality products and services at minimum cost.
  • Delighting the customer.
  • Enhancing the quality of the larger economic, ecological and social environment through creative giving or sharing of wealth, knowledge, skill, expertise and resources with the community.
  • Employee development not only in terms of skill, knowledge and creativity but also in terms of material, mental, moral and spiritual development and well-being of the employees.
  • Truth, honesty and transparency in all dealings.
  • Mutual trust and goodwill among the members of the organizational community.
  • Fairness and justice in dealing with employee grievances.
  • Patience, understanding and compassion in dealing with ethical, professional and personal problems among employees.
  • Creating mutually beneficial win-win situation in all transactions.
  • Creativity, innovation and continuous improvement in every activity of the corporate life and progressive perfection in work.
  • Beauty and harmony in the equipment and organization of the material and economic life of the company.
  • Progressive growth of liberty, equity and fraternity in the social and political life of the organization.
  • Promoting self-knowledge, self-management, compassion and service as primary leadership qualities.
  • Cultivating inner Peace and providing reasonable outer Security, acting as anchors of stability in a sea of change.
  • Providing sufficient rest, relaxation, leisure and inner and outer space to people for reflection, renewal and growth.
  • Every activity of the individual and corporate life, like for example, finance, marketing or manufacturing, should have some clearly defined professional, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual standards or ideals of perfection towards which it has to progress continually with a constant uplifting aspiration and effort.
  • Felicitating triune integration: integration of the body, mind, heart, will and action of the individual around a dharmic ideal or the spiritual core of her being; integration of the personal and professional life of the employee; integration of the material, techno-economic, social, political and cultural life of the organization around its mission, vision and values, which are in turn derived from dharma.

How to Implement Them

The second question is how to implement these values in the corporate life?

The first task is to create an enabling environment which consciously encourages and rewards all form of active and creative self-expression of these values in thought, feeling, behaviour and action. In other words there must be active encouragement to ethical, aesthetic and spiritual excellence and innovation.

The present motivational strategies in the corporate world encourage only techno-economic innovation and excellence. But for the higher evolution of the corporate world, there must be equal encouragement to what we may call as “value-innovation and excellence” in the mental, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual domain or in other words, there must be quality circles for promoting higher values. Workers and employees must be encouraged to offer suggestions on how to make the collective organism more true, beautiful, harmonious, compassionate, creative, progressive. In this task, the house-magazine and the intranet of the organization can be of great help in disseminating higher values in the organization through dialogue, discussion and creative participation. For example, the house-journal of the organization may publish articles, which help in widening the intellectual, ethical and spiritual horizons of the mind.

The second task is to create a system of education, training, and communication for internalizing these values in the consciousness of the individuals. However mere mental or information-oriented education of the kind given in most of the present systems of education can only bring about a superficial change.

At the best, it can bring about a change in intellectual orientation or attitude, which is helpful, but not enough for a lasting inner change. This deeper change can be achieved only by a psychological process and discipline. The main psychological factors which have to be developed and internalized to create an enduring ethical consciousness in the individual and the community are as follows:

  • Self-knowledge, self-control and self-mastery.
  • Calm, peace and tranquility.
  • Ethical, emotional and aesthetic intelligence, which has an intuitive sensitivity to higher values like truth, beauty, goodness, harmony, unity.
  • Faculties and qualities of Will and the Vital force like firmness, persistence, strength, courage, enthusiasm, energy, which are essential for manifesting these values in work, life and action.
  • Kindness, compassion and generosity.
  • Integrity, which means in a psychological perspective harmonious integration of thought, feeling, will and action around a higher ideal.

The third factor is to build a leadership which walks the talk. Every leader of the organisation must make a sincere and constant effort to live the higher values like truth, beauty, goodness or compassion in his thought, feelings, behaviour and action.

The fourth task is to create a system of monitoring and feedback for evaluating how much or to what extent the values are lived in the corporate life by the people in the organisation.

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.

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