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The Company You Keep: Does it Need Transformation?

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Shaping corporations to enhance rather than crush the spirit of employees turns out to be the best strategy long-term for getting rich.

This article appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health. Management guru Richard Barrett reports that creativity, fulfillment, and social responsibility have redrawn the bottom line for successful companies. The best predictor of whether or not your company will thrive is whether people like you have to leave your highest values in the parking lot. It was one of those situations in which, at least for awhile, everyone lost: My childhood friend lost, the firm he worked for lost, maybe even the world lost a little. A natural "people" person, my friend went to Stanford and Harvard Business School and was then snapped up by the staid and conservative McKinsey & Co., perhaps the worlds most influential consulting firm. He loved the work and was good at it -- trying to change things for the better in ways that powerful and caring business people can -- but he carried one not-so-small burden: My friend is gay, and for every McKinsey social function that he could not dodge, he felt obliged to find an understanding woman to hang on his arm. While gay partners were rumored to exist within …

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.


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