By: Andres Gomez
Throughout my studies of business and management I came developed an acute interest in the subject not only in the practical sense, such as balance sheets or management theory, but the less concrete notions behind it. The philosophy of business, what is its purpose to society?
There are many schools of thought behind what business is said to exist for. The most prevalent in recent memory being, “the responsibility of maximizing value to shareholders,” people who had invested money into the company. This philosophy was born from Nobel Prize in Economics winner Milton Friedman.* He stated, as such, “if there was no return on the investment, the business was failing its sole philosophical purpose, and was subject to forces that undermined free society.” In one statement he essentially condemned all businesses that operated outside of this mindset, saying they had no reason to exist in modern society.
We live in a world where this was the pervasive mantra for decades, and we are all witnesses to what it wrought. To say business has a public image crisis right now would be an intense understatement. Current generations have come to abhor the idea of business. They are aware of the rot that it promotes from faulty accounting to pyramid schemes, and the inequality it breeds. There is, however, a new vein of philosophy being opened: Business has the responsibility to maximize value to all stakeholders. This includes everyone and everything touched by the business, right down the air we breath and the ground we stand on. During my studies I was turned on to this idea that business could be a force for good. Unlike systems that demanded fairness in laws and rules, good could be something core to the business. The idea that to be good has a cost is dying, and we are beginning to understand that being good to all stakeholders creates businesses that are more profitable, even short term. This is business for the good of all society. Is it such a far-fetched idea? Could sustainable businesses (not funded by charity) be created for the sole benefit of leaving the world better than we found it?
These questions led me to where I stand today, with the help of many people, on the precipice of launching our first company, the one all of you are so graciously participating in right now as you read this article: Holy Rabbit Publishing House and our first project, The Manzanita Journal. In studying writing I found the power that stories hold, and in studying publishing and business I found the method by which I could make those stories heard. We have embraced the mission of using business to help the world. Instead of running away, we’re running towards this great responsibility.