If we wanted to define business ethics, we might look at a quote from some titan of industry and praise it (or refute it). We could just as easily recycle one of a million noteworthy quotations from… oh, let’s say, Gandhi? Mother Teresa? Nah. Too easy.
Let’s be honest. The old way of doing business—which is the current way of doing business for a lot of companies—is based on maximizing shareholder value, often at the expense of people and the environment.
“In order to shape your character, and thereby your ethical integrity, you have to face other people’s problems.”
And even though there are many thoughtful perspectives from good and honest people who’ve opposed such morally irresponsible standards in the past (insert your Gandhis and Mother Teresas here) their statements are often quoted but not personified.
At Bak USA, we think it’s time—past time, as a matter of fact—for a new way of doing business.
How can we help?
The Bak Story, and the beliefs in which our vision is grounded, begins in Haiti. The Bak family—J.P., Ulla, Christian, and Eva—traveled to Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, to help rebuild a sustainable infrastructure.
But that effort didn’t begin as a business venture. It began as a way to help people.
“The old way of doing business is based on maximizing shareholder value, often at the expense of people and the environment.”
We asked J.P. Bak, our chairman and CEO, to elaborate. Here’s what he said:
“In order to shape your character, and thereby your ethical integrity, you have to face other people’s problems. You’re not just living in your own little bubble… First of all, we wanted to do the right thing for Haitians, and we wanted to do the right thing for our children. The pure ethical thing we tried to do in Haiti—turned into a practical ethical thing, which not only helped people [and] created jobs, but also attracted the brightest to help the vulnerable.”
That’s what it means to be part of Bak USA. We believe that if you begin something by looking for a way to help people, you’ll begin the right way. And we know you share that belief.
We’re going corporate(ish).
Face other people’s problems. Do the right thing. Help people. Attract the brightest to help the vulnerable.
We’ve built these beliefs into our vision and mission statements. That’s a really corporate(ish) way to say that, isn’t it?
The thing is… we really mean it.
It’s our vision to make mobile technologies accessible to every human being on earth. And we’ll do it by building accessible technology, empowering local communities, and activating social prosperity.
These aren’t goals. They’re not line items on a P&L statement.
They’re values. Our values.
They make us a human company, not a company run by humans.
“We’re interested in identifying and employing people’s strengths.”
Our hiring practices are a real-life example of how we live and breathe our values. We believe it’s a large part of our social responsibility to create job opportunities for largely underrepresented members of our community.
Why? We asked Eva Bak, our Chief People Officer, and here’s what she said:
“We’re not about weeding people out. We’re about bringing people in.”
That’s a powerful statement. We aren’t interested in exposing and dismissing people’s weaknesses. We’re interested in identifying and employing people’s strengths. And with that as our guiding principle, we’ve created an eclectic team of incredibly talented, kind-hearted people.
As J.P. puts it: “What is more right than to treat other people in a way that makes them grow and have a better life?”
How do we build on our beliefs?
Our beliefs are the foundation upon which Bak USA was built. They are the ideals that define what we are calling “The American Standard.” They are the ethical principles that fuel our fire.
Last week, we received the Crystal Award from the Buffalo Niagara Business Ethics Association in recognition of our commitment to ethical business practices. It was a deeply humbling experience.
“What is more right than to treat other people in a way that makes them grow and have a better life?”
Here’s one last word (or two).
Thank you to the BNBEA, its volunteers, and its sponsors for bringing business ethics to the forefront and attention of the Buffalo Niagara community. Thank you to our fellow award finalists and recipients for putting principle and sound ethics first.
And thank you for taking the time to learn about us and what we believe.
Together, we’re going to change the world.
What else are we up to? Get the latest coverage online.
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James A. Colombo III