We could begin by looking for corporations who are not evil. Understanding that evil is often linked to Satan and has a myriad of connotations let me narrow this definition for the purpose of this article. I would contrast good vs. evil in the following context. Good is love, which is bestowal which is pure altruism. Good is the essence of giving before taking. Good is when you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Evil is taking instead of giving. Evil is calculating every action for our own benefit. Evil is taking care of your self and let the others take care of themselves. Evil is the dark selfish side of egoism.
So in the spirit of this definition; who are the evil corporations? All of them. It is easy to call out AIG, CitiGroup, the automakers and the others currently making headlines. I submit they are in the wrong industry at the wrong time, but their mis-conducts are no better or worse than the rest of the lot. This is important because we should all understand just how self serving corporate America has become. All corporations are me first. All corporations calculate every possible move to take as much profit as possible with the least expense possible. This calculation is applied to their customers, vendors and employees. Nothing is ever given and even when they perform charitable acts, they have calculated the benefit they will receive from the appearance of being charitable.
A corporation is a legal entity. You cannot call it on the phone or arrange for a meeting. The corporation is people and herein lays another cause with consequences for Corporate America. Although they will deny it under oath, the managers of corporations are making their decisions not based on what is best for the corporation; decisions are made based on what is best for my career. In a small business there are no levels of management and no career tracks. Employees with ownership interests need to put the needs of the business first or the business will likely fail. Not so in a big corporation. What's in it for me takes total precedence over what is good for the business. The sheer size and strength of the companies allow it to survive in an environment when the needs of the company were not put first-or at least they are used to survive. Not so much these days.
I worked for one of our largest corporations for 27 years. So many times I was told we needed to make a sacrifice for the "Team" or go the extra mile for the "Company." What this really meant is that some executive above me needed to look good. Despite the rhetoric about long term planning, it was clear we had to make our numbers now. Despite the rhetoric about being a customer driven organization, we took every dime from them we could. Despite executive rhetoric that "we are great because our people are great--people's jobs were slaughtered like lambs. . If you did not know this already know this now, loyalty is dead in corporate America. There is no trust. None!
Why is it that a corporation needs board of directors? They get paid for what? I hear they are supposed to provide leadership, guidance and directives to insure the health of the company. Maybe it was the way once, but now they are rubber stamps that enable the corporate officers to do as they please. Readers make no mistake that corporations are run for the benefit of the top officers and the cozy arrangement with the board of directors makes it all work. How do you think CEO and executive pay escalated so out of proportion to the rest of the world? Did you believe the non sense that we have to pay our CEO $XXX because the other CEOs are getting $YYY? The boards of directors are also CEOs, so one hand washes the other. It has been successful conspiracy to artificially drive up compensation. It worked because no one was paying attention, until now.
Understanding where we are now is the first step. Our challenge is to put human beings back into Corporate America. Human beings who do not believe in winning at any costs, but strive for the win/win situations. Human beings who don't talk about taking care of customers and employees, but actually take care of customers and employees. Human beings who deeply consider the consequences of their actions on the global community. Long term health and long term growth should be the goals and the rewards. Human beings acting with intelligence and compassionate are one way to restore confidence. The confidence the American public once had in big business has been destroyed and big business is to blame. We need leaders who will restore trust by their actions. We have heard far too much of their rhetoric.