Why Should the Business Leader be Concerned with Human Ecology?
Napa Institute Founder Tim Busch reflects on the vocation of the business leader, in a recent blog post published by The Catholic School of America School of Business and Economics.
In preparation for the March 2016 conference on Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America, we turn to the great and timeless documents of church social teaching: Rerum Novarum, Centesimus Annus, and more recently, Laudato Si.
The Catholic business leader is called in a very unique way to collaborate in the work of Creation. Through practical wisdom and good business practice the business leader contributes to both the material and spiritual wellbeing of the community. Understanding the relationship between humans and their social environment – that is, human ecology – is critical in order to be successful in this venture.
As Catholics, we are particularly called to live out our faith together with our business life; to avoid the divided life which Cardinal Turkson has pointed out is the most significant personal obstacle to living out the vocation of the business leader. The division between faith and daily business practice can distort the goal of business, leading to a misplaced devotion to worldly success. A Catholic business leader should seek to understand the possible good and bad outcomes of his work, to judge each decision according to ethical social principles, and to put into practice the virtues and ethical social principles propounded by the Catholic faith in his work and business life.
The business leader has a serious responsibility to contribute to the common good. We are told that “from those who have been entrusted with much, much more will be demanded.” We, as successful Catholic business leaders, have been entrusted with very much. As a result, our responsibility to contribute to the material and even spiritual wellbeing of society is a significant one.
We can contribute to the material and spiritual wellbeing of society by managing and executing our businesses well. When business is executed well, the material wellbeing of our employees and stakeholders is increased, and by providing goods and services that are needed, we contribute to the overall wellbeing of our community. When we manage our businesses well, with principles that are rooted in fundamental ethical principles, we enhance the dignity of our employees, increase their self-sufficiency, and develop virtues in those that work for us and with us.
This is the vocation of the business leader, then: to use well what he has been entrusted with for the benefit of the common good, to be an effective collaborator in creation, and to live a life that integrates virtue with business practice for the benefit of society. None of this can be accomplished without first having a good understanding of human ecology.
These are some of the themes that will be discussed at the 2016 conference on Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America. I hope that you will join us as we humbly strive to understand and live out our vocations as Catholic business leaders.