Honesty and Capitalism


Those of us who live in capitalist liberal democracies are used to the idea of businesses having “mission statements”. Indeed they are so common, one wonders if they are bought off the shelf, so evasively coy are some of them:

“To be the best supplier of X product in our chosen marketplace.”

“To be the premier supplier of Y product.” (Just what does premier mean in this context?)

And so on.

But why do you want to be the best supplier of whatever it is? I have seen only a few mission statements that actually tell the whole truth; that unashamedly explain the reason for a company’s existence. In most cases the truth is that the company exists to make money for someone.

Fine. Say so!

I would be impressed by a company that, instead hiding its motives behind PR twaddle, would state that bald truth: they exist to make money. Credit us with some intelligence!

While they are at it, why not go further by simply behaving towards us in ways that don’t annoy us? If doing that costs more money, tell us so. And use plain English.

For example:

Mission Statement

We exist to make our shareholders wealthier. We aren’t ashamed about this.

We will do this by selling x service/product at a profit.

We will do this ethically and honestly, treating our customers with respect, compensating our staff at least in line with the market-average and providing a pleasing working environment.

If we have to use call centres, we will make sure the experience of using them is brief, productive and not frustrating.

If we do something stupid we will acknowledge it quickly.

We will credit the customer with intelligence. If it turns out that the customer is lacking in that department will not make them feel embarrassed about it.

Our environmental policies will be real, measurable and not PR fig-leaves to cover lamentable inadequacies.

If we don’t achieve these goals, we deserve to get our arses whipped in the marketplace and go out of business.

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