If you live in the “developed” western world (developed is a word I use loosely here to reference a cluster of countries including the United States and Europe) and you aspire to make your mark in the world of business, you are often asked to leave your faith at the door. Morality is seen as a luxury few can intertwine with business principles and while morality certainly exists outside of faith, faith occupies a unique position in that it encompasses morality. Faith attempts to codify a set of principles that, if one follows, presumably will lead to respect, love and prosperity for humankind.
The common fear that declarations of faith will have a negative impact on business prospects leads many entrepreneurs to practice the doctrine of separate but equal with their professional and personal lives. This, however, begs the question – On what set of principles will your business stand? Without a foundation of morality, is your business doomed to encourage immoral and subsequently illegal behavior? Is it wishful thinking to suppose moral principles would have prevented the development of “hypothetical future value” and subsequent collapse of Enron? There is no way to tell, it is all just speculation. Principles as the foundation of your company culture is an essential component of business the way God intended. We need look no further than Chick-fil-A (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick-fil-A) to see this in action.
S. Truett Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist; his religious beliefs had a major impact on the company. The company’s official statement of corporate purpose says that the business exists “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Cathy’s beliefs are also responsible for one of the chain’s distinctive features: all Chick-fil-A locations (corporate owned and franchised) are closed on Sundays, as well as on Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Cathy states as the final step in his Five-Step recipe for Business Success, “I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business.”
When the CEO’s personal statements ran counter to his legal (and moral) obligation to serve all people, the organization evaluated its position and ceased supporting organization’s that promoted discrimination against any group, keeping in line with their core values. Today, Chick-fil-A continues to build on its 60 year success, taking the industry lead in average sales per restaurant from McDonald’s with 2.7 million in sales per restaurant. The legal doctrine of separate but equal did not work when it was introduced to our society by the courts in Plessy vs. Fergueson and does not work as a principle today. Your business and your faith can occupy the same space.