Ever since the Dutch invented the modern concept of the corporation in 17th century, it’s been commonly believed that the only stakeholders a business needs to worry about are those who hold financial shares in the company. Makes sense, since the explicit legal purpose of a corporation is to pool capital and then divide the profit among shareholders.
By the 20th century, a new type of entrepreneur arose, one who started to think more broadly. Business leaders like Henry Ford realized that his customers and employees were also important stakeholders; that treating employees and customers well, was good for business and brought more value to shareholders. This line of thinking has caught on in the tech industry in the last decade, as good companies reach to be great companies to work for, or devote themselves to customer service (or both, in the case of Zappos).
For Jesus-centered entrepreneurs, the concept of stakeholder is so much more.
A NEW BRAND OF ENTREPRENEUR
Over the last decade, enterprising companies have come to understand better, what constitutes a stakeholder. TOMS Shoes popularized the “Triple Bottom Line,” which explicitly added social responsibility to their business’ core purpose, expanding the business stakeholders to include society as a whole.
Today there is a veritable explosion of social enterprises, resulting in the creation of an official class of businesses, the Benefit Corporation. A Benefit Corporation is unique among business categories because it makes social and ecological concerns an official, legal obligation in the corporate charter. TOMS Shoes largely operated in uncharted territory when they formed. However, new B Corps like Allbirds, are now legally required to maintain a social and ecological focus as part of their operations.
WHERE’S GOD IN ALL OF THIS?
While mission-focused companies are an honorable new development on the global business stage, Christian entrepreneurs have always had another stakeholder.
When entrepreneurs are called to create, they work for an Audience of One.
Whether legally recognized or not, faith-based businesses have 5 important stakeholders.
Who makes your stakeholder list? A good start is to look around at your business processes, HR policies, and marketing strategies and ask yourself, “Where’s God in all of this?”
Are you finding God in the daily grind of your business? Where do you turn to for support or inspiration for growing your business?