ABSTRACT for the “3rdInternational Symposium on MEANINGFUL WORK” in Amsterdam June 14./15th2018
Enhancing our Work Environment: The Contribution of Business Ethics 3.0 to Sustainable Corporate Practices
Professor Erhard Meyer-Galow Phd
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster/Germany
Meaningful Work: Meaningful Life
Society is in transition from an age of mental consciousness to one of integral consciousness. Influenced by quantum physics this integral consciousness is encouraged by our new relationship with space and time. Our ‘Being’ is moving towards transparency for immanent transcendence, which is the real meaning of life.All psychological and spiritual practices for mindfulness contribute to this transparency. When, through mindful awareness we are able to limit the influence of our ego-mind we achieve the intended integral state where we experience time and space as an indivisible whole, not as a past, present or future. The greater our practice of mindfulness awareness the more we experience the ‘wholeness of life’, affording us a life-balance where our personal and professional endeavors become rich and meaningful.
Decisions are made by individuals, and individual decisions determine whether our work environment is structured and maintained so as to enhance employee satisfaction, or to alienate it by extinguishing employee’s incentives to participate enthusiastically towards common corporate goals. As decisions by managers are pivotal factors in deciding the success or failure of corporate enterprises, it is crucial that those entrusted with positions of authority integrate critical knowledge and wisdominto their decision making process. Ethical practices can only arise from decisions based upon morally defensible criteria, which de factomust accommodate the principles of sustainability.
We must all personallyaccommodate the stresses which result from conflicts in our lives. Perhaps the loss of love, of confidence, of financial security, the experience of minor illnesses or even life threatening diseases. From where do we draw our strength, find the resolve and foster the resilience which allows us to move forward with confidence that our decisions are not compromised? How can we cultivate and nourish greater wisdom from our misfortunes?
A promising pathway to explore is the recognition that resilience is a dynamic, emergent and evolving state, one which we must individually shape and finely tune to our specific circumstances through activebut receptivemindful awareness of our personal reality. When we further enhance this awareness through meditative reflection, a practice which encourages and nourishes resilience as an integral part of our being, we allow ourselves to personally experienceuniversal wisdom which then forever becomes an integral part of our SELF.
Growth through Mindful Awareness
Management’s alienation of their labor force by expediently ignoring important issues such as environmental impact, working conditions, regulatory laws, product quality and the recovery and regeneration of human resources are a few examples of unethical business practices. It begs the question of why the innumerable guidelines, articles, books, workshops, appeals and well-meaning protestations for sustainable ethical practices in allaspects of life, have with the exception of decisions made by a small minority of enlightened managers, failed.Recognizing the unviable consequences of our current approach is a crucial impetus towards appreciating the business case for a new approach which may lead us to embrace moral decisions and ethical practices as a corporate strategy.
Personal wholeness, which results from our entire life’s activities, contemplations and introspective insights incorporates the unity of body, soul and mind. The emphasisupon mindin contemporary society is a fatal error. The whole person must consist of a balancedunity of body, soul and spirit. (Latin: corpus, anima and spiritus; Greek: soma, psyche and pneuma). As a result of this current misconception, the spiritual dimension of human life is not afforded its rightful place in our thoughts and actions, resulting in society being wounded due to the imbalance between our ego-centered interests and desires, and those considerations which embrace all of humanity. A powerful way to foster unity, consensus and equality in the workplace, is through the application of both our psychological individuation and our spiritual dimension.
A leader who has undertaken inner growth becomes the ideal partner for engaging with employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, analysts, politicians, union members and all other stakeholders in a company.
As important as laws, legislation and regulations are, our every action cannot be controlled by simply establishing new rules. An ethical approach which is based upon the dictates of ourego based rational mind, or someone else’s, as is the case with political and religious dictates, is doomed to failure. It is therefore important that we encourage a personalresponsibility for recognizing and promoting those ethical principles which form the very heart of the spirit of entrepreneurship. Since the ego is invested in directing us towards short-term, ego-centered, ego-fulfilling decisions, it cannot be expected to guide us towards wise, long-term, societally enhancing decisions.
Mindfulness encourages us to choose actions which are in accord with our actual self, that divine holistic principlewithin all of us which inspires more empathetic behavior. We must transcend ego-centered knowledgewith intuitive, spiritual centered knowingand experiencingso as to engender, encourage and welcome wise decisions.We must cultivate the ability to listen to our inner voice and to be guided by our ethical compass.
We must heal our separation from our inner self if we are able to embrace ethical practices in a sustainable fashion. To accomplish this we must bridge the gap to our soul and to our spirit.The collective disorientation of modern man, especially when it remains unconscious and unassimilated gives rise to a series of dangerous reactions which have decisively molded the general ethos of our age. Within the individuation of a person it is therefore the task of lifeto become whole. There is no way back to the wholeness of the early childhood. To progress we must become whole as an adult and to act from this inner strength.
To make the shift from ego-based decisions to those based upon greater personal mindfulness necessitates not merely tinkering with the existing machine, but rather completely re-thinking, re-evaluating and re-defining that which is of fundamental importance to us. Consideration of the human factor leads us to morally defensible practices, those which value and promote our individual growth as well as contributing to that of others.
Exciting developments in Quantum Physics which firmly establish our inter-connectedness, non-duality and non-linearity, in conjunction with C.G. Jung’s and Erich Neumann’s Depth Psychologyand the concept of Individuation, offer a promising approach. Together they accommodate the recognition that our suppressed and repressed “Dark Side” which arises from our ego blocks our “Light Side”, often unconsciously and detrimentally affecting our ability to make socially responsible decisions. The integration of our Dark and Light sides is a crucial pre-requisite for the development of the SELF, as promoted by Jung. This experience of inter-connectedness, advanced and enhanced by both modern quantum physics and mystics for thousands of years, integrates the apparent opposites into a single unity. This uniting process is what Jungrefers to as Individuation and the "Coincidentia Oppositorum” which lead naturally and seamlessly to moral and ethical decisions and practices.
Individuation,asencouraged by Depth Psychology is a process of transformation whereby the personal and collective unconscious are brought into consciousness to be assimilated into the complete personality. It is a necessary process for the integration of the psyche. We may consider individuation as “coming to selfhood,” or “self-realization.” Jungfelt this process of “self-realization” was a “natural transformation,” something that “the unconscious had in mind,” fundamental to the development of our individual personality. It supports inner peace and an improved work/life balance which result in greater serenity, humor, harmony, compassion, charity and love; all of which encourage us to embrace a New Ethic.Jungstated that thepsychology of the unconscious leads to an esoteric form of ethics. (Jung 1959)
We must restore our connection to our soul. When we act with mindfulness and compassion we will find ourselves a part of the wheel of life. Our energy will be in harmonious balance with that of all of the rest of creation. This leads to an ethically and morally impeccable treatment of all beings and the environment. It leads to a life of mindfulness and compassion.When we live compassionately in the moment, faithfully trusting in benevolent universal forces, we open ourselves to an unimaginably powerful source of previously untapped energy; energy of healing, of contentment, and of success which is measured by inner growth. The result is lasting resilience.
Morality is introduced into a social system by people, their values and their levels of integrity. In so far as people are essentiallymoral, ethical and compassionate creations as a part of the natural world, surely decisions which affect their well-being and ability to be productive members of a larger society must be based upon reasoned, mindful processes in order to resonate in any meaningful way with them.A successful and empathetic manager recognizes, appreciates and builds upon an interconnectedness with employees. That is the divine spark; the divine network.
It is important that young professionals confront questions such as who am I, why am I here and what is my life’s task? Learning to Live: encouraging the realization that life is best understood as a process of reflection and learning, would be an excellent Business School course!!
Business Ethics 3.0: Inclusion of the Missing Link
The premise upon which Business Ethics 3.0 is imagined and presented is that every individual is obliged, in both intention and action, to be morally and ethically faultless so as not to harm either others or the environment.
In today’s interconnected world we cannot continue to subscribe to anachronistic business practices which don’t embrace the now universally evident connection between a respected and valued workforce and an increase in productivity, employee satisfaction and retention. This age of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, often expressed by the acronym VUCA and evidenced by the current wave of ‘disruptive innovations’, innovations for the sake of change alone which lead to ‘disruptive ethical behavior’ necessitates that we examine the criteria upon which we make ethical decisions.
Business Ethics 1.0was largely practiced as damage control. It considered the criteria which must constitute an ethics agenda and encouraged us to direct our attention and energy towards the management of specific crises, dilemmas and related ethical misdemeanors.
Business Ethics 2.0was more proactive, prompting us towards a clarification of the vision and the mission around a more philosophically based set of ethical guidelines and ethics training.
Even a casual observation of the international marketplace leads us to the recognition that Business Ethics 2.0, even with the inclusion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR 2.0), has only made marginal advances towards a New Ethic which encompasses sustainable moral decisions in all aspects of personal and professional life.
What remains missing?
First, it is necessary that we understand that practices built upon immoral foundations can never result in lasting personal or professional success or satisfaction.Secondly, we must realize that it is not possible to live and manage in a morally and ethically defensible fashion by simply following an externally imposed set of rules. Thirdly, it is essential that we recognize that a sustainable morality resulting in ethical practices can never be realized while we remain obsessed with our energy draining focus upon striving for success and wealth at any cost to either individuals or the environment.
It is only the inner peace, stability and balance in our life whicharises from withinus, from the awakening of our awareness of our inner dimension as the result of substantial ‘inner work’ which can lead us towards unfailingly ethical practices. We cannot force our inner growth, but we can encourage, allow and value it. The resilience which is thus engendered allows us to weather the inevitable detrimental forces which otherwise act to cast us adrift. We might therefore define the New Ethicas a development and differentiation within the old ethic, confined at present to those uncommon individuals who, often driven by unavoidable conflicts of duty, endeavor to bring the conscious and the unconscious into a responsible relationship.
Business Ethics 3.0is a further development and advancement of Business Ethics 2.0. It is nota new set of laws and guidelines. It encompasses a holistic focus which encourages an integration of spirituality, philosophy, theology, science and psychology, drawing upon all that we have learned and experienced thus far. This approach is unique in being able to engender an Integral Ethic, one which is fundamental. An Integral ethic has a crucial, active and deliberate "integrative" approach, one which rather than isolating, integrates and merges. It is inclusive of light and dark, good and evil, subject and object, masculine and feminine, young and old, ego and self, ego-mind and reason, suppliers and customers, companies and shareholders and managers and employees. In so doing it bolsters our ‘personal wholeness’, recognizing that all of these apparent opposites are merely polarities of a singlerealitywhich cannot be described, but which mustbe personally experienced.
Contentment: Happiness: Joyfulness
Contentment is fostered by the re-connection of ourselves with the spiritual which heals the wounds which resulted from our separation from it as a result of the development of our ego mind. After birth we can only truly call ourselves holistic for about our first three years. Then begin the distinctions of me and you, of mine and yours. With these distinctions our ‘wholeness’is shattered by the development of our ego.
There are many ways for this healing to begin and many pathways for its continued progression. Ultimately we must become completeindividuals, a dynamic, balanced integration of our body, mind, soul and spirit. Thisinnergrowth cannotbe achieved by our rational mind or by our emotions, it must take place in the trans-psycho- mental aspect of our Being. Overcoming our ego-centeredness is an essential first step which can be achieved through exercises which are based mainly upon the transcendence which is initiated by our letting goof thoughts and feelings.
When we become fully mindful we will never harm others or the environment, and will find inner peace in both our private and professional life. Not surprisingly, mindfulness is the necessary condition for creating equanimity, serenity, cheerfulness, humor, harmony, compassion, humanity and a love for others, while protecting individual dignity. Practicing mindfulness and compassion in our work, and with others with whom we work is an important opportunity for increasing our awareness, allowing and encouraging the further development of our inner growth and giving our life new meaning.
Meditation is an excellent means of relieving personal and professional tensions and preventing or relieving symptoms such as burn out, depression, anxiety and isolation. When we lack the resolve and discipline to meditate, we can instead try finding opportunities which interest and fulfill us, ones in which we can practice mindfulness every day. We encounter opportunities for increased mindful awareness daily as part of our work, music, art, enjoyment of nature, dance, of our experiences of illness, unexpected encounters or ...in a myriad of other activities and reflections, as discussed in Living in the Golden Wind(Meyer-Galow 2011/2014).
From Knowledge to Wisdom
To retain employees and foster employee satisfaction leaders of companies must create new futures in order to survive. Those futures can no longer be extensions of the past; they must be leaps of faith into tomorrow. Today’s knowledge-creating company must metamorphose into the wisdom-practicing company of tomorrow. That demands a new kind of leader.Leadership style is an essential component in the determination of a company’s innovative potential. Are we open, receptive and trusting of ideas which arise intuitively, or are we crippled and limited by the simple reliance upon our intellect, the origin of which is our ego mind?Experience teaches us that it is essential that we first must be aware of our ownDark Brother and have learned how best to handle him, before we can lead others wisely.
Wise Leaders with a foundation of sound, sustainable personal values can
· judge goodness
· grasp the essence
· create shared contexts
· communicate the essence
· exercise political power
· foster practical wisdom in others
Applying Business Ethics 3.0
The presentation will include examples of the application of Business Ethics 3.0 to organization, leadership, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, investments, strategy, taxation, supply chain, customer relations and sustainable environmental responsibility.
“The true value of life depends on consciousness and the power of contemplation, not (simply) survival.” Aristotle (384-322 BC)