Business leaders have tremendous power to influence our society, how it operates, whether it is fair, and the extent to which it impacts the environment. And yet, we do not recognize or call out the responsibility that comes with that power. This book is meant to challenge future business leaders to think differently about their career, its purpose, and its value as a calling or vocation, one that is in service to society. Its message is for current and prospective business students, business leaders thinking anew about the role of business in society, and the business educators that train all these people.
We face great challenges as a society today, from environmental problems like climate change and habitat destruction, to social problems like income inequality, unemployment, lack of a living wage, and poor access to affordable health care and education. Solutions to these challenges must come from the market (as comprised of corporations, the government, and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the many stakeholders in market transaction, such as the consumers, suppliers, buyers, insurance companies, and banks), the most powerful institution on earth, and from business, which is the most powerful entity within it. Though government is an important and vital arbiter of the market, business is the force that transcends national boundaries, possessing resources that exceed those of many nations. Business is responsible for producing the buildings that we live and work in, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the forms of mobility we employ, and the energy that propels us. This does not mean that only business can generate solutions or that there is no role for government, but with its unmatched powers of ideation, production, and distribution, business is positioned to bring the change we need at the scale we need it. Without business, the solutions will remain elusive. Indeed, if there are no solutions coming from the market, there will be no solutions. And without visionary and service-oriented leaders, business will never even try to find them.