What is the Responsibility of a Business?
I think it was Moliere who once said something like this that the writers are like prostitutes, they first do it for the fun of it and when they do it as a job, they do it for the money.
I think some of the Iranians abroad that started some cultural activities to serve the needs of the Iranian community abroad, e.g., TVs, Farsi classes, libraries, art centers, Persian software, newspapers, cultural centers to defend Iranians against prejudice, etc, became businesses in one of those areas of their activity, or became a business in something that had resulted from those activities. They gained money and were able to hire lawyers and contact governments of the U.S. or Iran, etc., and many forgot the customers of those services who had made them what they are.
Unfortunately when they became a business, their image of a business was that their sole responsibility was to their company and its shareholders, and even forgot that they are an Iranian, the very reason their customers had supported them in the first place. They forgot their whole business was able to be created, because it was based on the needs of Iranians in the first place. They had a very backward notion of business, even worse than what Moliere thinks of working for money.
It is true that a business is about making money. But today's businesses think of their *mission* to be "creating superior value for their customers, partners, shareholders, and employees" and thus find a very important role for themselves vis-à-vis the community. This is how HP grew to become a major driver of not only computer industry in the Silicon Valley of California, but became a worldwide leader of computer and networking industry worldwide. HP founders always emphasized their responsibilities to the community and said they should give back to the community that had nurtured them. Look at the Lucile Packard Hospital near Stanford University donated by the Packard foundation and many other community activities of the founders of HP. BTW, HP today is far from how it was before in this regard.
Unfortunately when some of the Iranians were doing altruistic social activity, they were willing to give their life for the good of people and when they became a business, they thought they should be the worst of what is understood of being a business and forgot all the human side of their work. This is unfortunate and this shows that as a nationality there is a lot for us to learn in terms of what it means to be professional and businesslike rather than thinking the only meaning of business to be one with no integrity.
It is sad that the ones who think they they know what being professional and businesslike is, have a very backward image of business, something that was more suitable for England of two centuries ago, and a good subject for Charlie Chaplin to ridicule in his movies, than something to believe in, as the model of business in today's world. Being a businessperson surely does not mean to be a cold-blooded money-monger, who has no concern of the consequences of his/her efforts of making money. At least this is not the only model of being businesslike and professional today.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
January 7, 2001
* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Jan 7, 2001.