Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
(The Corporate Culture and Spirituality Conference aimed at promoting ethical business practices through constructive dialogue with industry leaders, was held at The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore. The conference featured illustrious industry leaders speaking on: Corporate Shared Value, Unleashing the Human Potential, Collaboration Innovation & Growth. The Art of Living in association with the World Forum for Ethics in Business also handed out Sri Sri Leadership Awards in the categories of “Outstanding Individual” and “Outstanding Corporation”. Below is a transcript of Sri Sri's message at the start of the event...)
I just want to share with you something that I heard about 12 years ago. When I was having a conversation with young business people right here in this city, the topics of ethics came out. Do you know what the young entrepreneurs thoughts? They thought that ethics is something naive, and if you want to be successful, you have to be smart. And to be smart means to find your way anyhow, and make big bucks in a short period of time.
So, being ethical was considered naive, and smartness meant doing unethical things as long as you are not caught. If you don't get caught and you do unethical things, that was being smart. This was the general idea among the youth entrepreneurs.
There are people who are doing business with ethics and they are still making good profits and going up the ladder.
Of course, over the past decade this has changed because we have seen many big companies which went the unethical way and came crashing down. This has given a lesson to our young people. But it is so appalling how smartness got linked to unethical ways. It is at that time that I thought, we need to do something about this. We need to bring those people who have been doing business ethically together, and showcase them to the world that - there are people who are doing business with ethics and they are still making good profits and going up the ladder.
These people are not being exhibited as role models, they are not being presented in a way that people can take them as role models.
So there are role models, but they need a platform. They need a place to showcase that it is possible to do business with ethics, and that is how we started this conference - Corporate Culture & Spirituality (CCS).
It is a matter of pride that today many people are part of this initiative and many people are participating as well. The paradigm of people is changing, and now, those who do business with ethics are looked at with honor. They themselves feel pride in doing business ethically.
Business is not useless! In India, there are many people who think that business is useless, and they do not have much respect for business as a profession. Business is not bad, but using wrong means to do business is bad. When business associates itself with corporate social responsibility and ethics, only then will business gains that much needed status and respect that is due to it.
Unethically you can go high but the fall will be that much bigger and faster. This, luckily, nature has shown us in the past decade.
Corruption or lack of ethics has entered in almost every field, whether it is sports, business, politics or even religion. In all these important pillars of society corruption has entered like a cancer. So it is necessary that all these four aspects of society come together and cleanse its system of unethical behaviors.
Unethically you can go high but the fall will be that much bigger and faster. This, luckily, nature has shown to us in the past decade.
There are ample examples, one such is match fixing in games. This is such a sorry state of affairs. Millions of people are watching the game thinking it is genuine, while someone from behind has gotten it all fixed already, where they are know how many goals will be made, or wickets taken, etc. Why has this greed and unethical behavior entered into sports and so many other field is what we need to ponder on. And we need to set a new role model in front of the new generation, because today the youngsters are moving very fast and they need the right role models and right guidance.
Conferences like this one will bring forth the success stories of business, politics, sports and faith based organization to showcase to people that - yes, you can be successful following ethics.
See, one of the most important thing about being ethical is that you can have good sleep. You can have good sleep and be fearless. You can smile from the core of your heart. But if you have done anything that is unethical, it robs you of your smile, robs you of your sleep and takes away other comforts from you.
In fact, if you look at it, it is very costly doing business unethically. Who would want to do a business where you gain very little but spend a lot. It is not good economics. This is the message we need to drive into the budding entrepreneurs of society.
So it is smart to be ethical and it is smart to be service oriented. This message we need to give loud and clear and I hope that this conference can showcase this values system to people around the world.
If you have done something that is unethical, it robs you of your smile, of your sleep and also takes away other comforts from you.
In fact, if you look at it, it is very costly doing business unethically. Who would want to do a business where you gain very little but spend a lot. It is not good economics.
Today we are all connected through the virtual world. Whatever ideas we are bringing forth here is not limited to this audience or this space. It is travelling across the world in minutes, or even seconds probably. In minutes, people sitting in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South America and many other places are getting these messages. So all that we will be doing here in the next two days will be very significant, and would help uplift ethics and the wellbeing of our society.
With these few words, I congratulate all of you, and I would ask you to please ponder more on this and come up with projects to spread this.
Do you know, conferences are incomplete if they are not followed by some projects. Just talking will not suffice, with talking we also need an action plan.
I am sure with all the brilliant minds here, you can come up with several action plans which will benefit society at large. I pray to the almighty to guide us all in the right direction.