Corporate Stewardship

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Stewardship is the responsible planning and management of resources.  It’s not often that we think of large corporations in terms of stewardship, using resources wisely and making responsible choices.  It is more likely that we think of corporations as examples of what not to do.  The coal mining industry has hurt the planet; blasting apart mountains, releasing toxic minerals and heavy metals into our water and soil and after the coal has been stripped from earth, the land is left barren.  Or the oil industry who practice deep sea drilling and have spilled fossil fuels into previously pristine waters destroying fragile habitats/ecosystems and even more fragile lives of the inhabitants of the area.

A company’s success is measured in dollars and cents, in a capitalist society the goal is to make a profit, but stewardship advocates responsible planning and management, is it possible to do this and make money?  The reality is that what is best for society would require businesses to make less profit, but profit can still be made when doing the right thing.  The media has the opportunity to be good stewards.  For example the television industry runs programming that they hope will draw viewers and attract advertising dollars. They have the opportunity to provide quality programming or pander to the masses with mindless entertainment.  Mindless entertainment can be cheap to produce and isn’t much of a risk, but quality programming can not only entertain, but educate as well.  Compare programs like The Good Wife and Breaking Bad which feature solid acting, well written story lines that make you think with shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Jersey Shore.  Yes, the Kardashians may make money, but do they offer any value to the viewer?  The media can be good stewards by donating airtime to worthy causes, keeping quality programming in the hopes that it will find an audience, passing on potentially popular but reprehensible content and holding themselves to higher standards than those set by the FCC. Following the attacks on the Twin Towers the media proved themselves to be good stewards.  They reported the news with dignity and keeping the country informed as the consequences of the attacks unfolded.  They did not report on the salacious and tasteless in order to boost ratings.  They were respectful, while a nation mourned.

We all have the opportunity to practice stewardship, whether on an individual or corporate level, we can make a difference.