She had me at “love”.
“When we think of passion, compassion, and even love, we may associate these words with romantic or familial relationships. Rarely do we link these terms to business.”
The problem is, of course, that we “want to be profitable, but we also want compassion to be a cornerstone of what we do”. This almost always leads to choices, often tough choices.
“Practically anybody can make money, but how you make your money and what you compromise to do it are equally as important.”
Writing for the Freelancers Union Blog, she points out that this is particularly tough for independent workers, who may not have a business degree or classwork in business ethics for guidance. A gig worker who is learning as she goes has to “be careful because unethical business practices can be subtle.” As she says, a business opportunity, any business opportunity, may be “incongruent” with your own values.
The good news is that an independent worker can walk away. It’s not so easy to quit a job and walk away from a career when a large organization chooses a problematic business. But a freelancer can say “no, thanks” to any job.
The bad news is that not only could you starve to death trying to be ethical, but you are on your own. Working for a large organization is easy, because you can delegate ethics to others. A freelancer has no choice but to choose for himself.
I will say that I consider not having an MBA and training in “business ethics” to actually be beneficial. The very fact that business schools feel a need for a specific course in “ethics” tells you that the rest of the curriculum is not about ethics. As far as I can tell, business school is all about teaching people to ignore normal human ethics in favor of some kind of economic rationalism.
My own view is that there is no such thing as “business ethics”. There are only personal ethics. You have to know your own values, and make your business conform to you. This is not what they teach at business school.
As Sensei Seldon points out, one of the real advantages of freelancing is that you can say things like:
- I am in love with my company.
- I am passionate about sharing my goods and services with the world.
- I demonstrate compassion when interfacing with my clients.
(See other posts by Seldon on Freelancing here.)
- Tyra Seldon, Can love be the guiding force of your business?, in Frrelancers Union – Blog. 2017. https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2017/07/31/can-love-be-the-guiding-force-of-your-business-2/