Why Citizenship Matters in Business

I’ve lived the American dream and will be forever grateful for that opportunity. My mother and father grew up in the Depression, my father fought to defend our country in World War II, and they both worked to provide for our family. Sure, we had our share of bumps along the way – more than some people but significantly less than most. Ultimately, the “land of opportunity” was just that – a place where I could excel in school, build a career, and eventually achieve some level of “success.” Democracy and capitalism reign supreme.

But as interesting and compelling as that sounds, this iconic combination of meritocracy, personal freedoms, and capitalistic rewards is an incomplete picture of the American experiment. With it has come social inequality, poverty, racism, discrimination, and incivility, and our nation is going through a gut-wrenching period of divisiveness and unrest that is leading us into unexplored and dangerous territory. In an obvious sense, our local, state, and federal governments are supposed to address many of these issues, but unfortunately, there is widespread, political and civic dysfunction today, especially in Washington, DC.

All of which brings me to the point of my current dilemma. I’ve spent most of my life proving myself to others, overcoming obstacles, and building a career that has provided my family with some level of financial freedom. Now that I’ve “maximized profit,” I look around and wonder why it all mattered. It begs an important set of questions: in a profit driven society, how do we create solutions to social issues that seemingly don’t attract the capital they deserve?  If government action and non-profit resources are necessary but insufficient, how do we solve the social Gordian knot we face? Who will step up to provide leadership to heal our wounds and carry the country to the next plateau? What role should our iconic, capitalist companies and their business leaders play?


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