What is justice? Now more than ever I find myself plagued by this question. In college, I wrote my senior paper on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, questioning whether or not amnesty was a sufficient form of justice for black South Africans who were tortured, forcibly removed from ancestral homelands, and lost thousands of country men and women to government sanctioned murders.
Today, as a Public Policy Fellow working with reSET (Social Enterprise Trust), I find myself confronted with the same issue of justice; constantly battling the literature, the research, and my mind. What is right? One of the projects I have been assigned here at reSET is the construction and development of the reSET Policy Shop. The expected outcome is an online destination for entrepreneurs who are curious about social enterprise (legally termed a Benefit Corporation), but want to gain a broader understanding of what it is, how they can build a social enterprise and how they can access helpful resources that will further guide their trajectory. Although I should be focused on Benefit Corporations, and brainstorming strategic ways to spread the word that Connecticut should capitalize on its opportunity to become the social enterprise state, I find myself more concerned with corporate responsibility. While investigating the discourse within the social enterprise sector, I stumbled across the issue of shareholder wealth maximization, and often find myself entrenched by Friedman, Berle, Blair, Stout, Bainbridge, Murray, and others who weigh in on the purpose of business. Recently, I came to a grand realization:
Working for a non- profit will be one of the most transformative experiences of my career because I have been blessed with an opportunity through Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship, to further investigate corporate governance and business ethics far beyond the classes and study abroad experiences I took advantage of in college. It gave me a chance to experience the problems that non- profit organizations are experiencing, and come to my own conclusions: Although government and non- profits collaboratively tackle social and environmental issues, government and non- profits are insufficient in alleviating social and environmental ills on a global scale. Now, more than ever, the private sector is needed to advance progress by making a commitment to human potential and difference, and by reigniting values of unity, respect, and altruism.
While working for a non-profit has also given me insight into the action needed on both the federal and state level to make these organizations function efficiently and effectively, it has also equipped me with a more progressive ideal for the way our institutions should be governed.For so long, workers have been robbed of their time, physical abilities, and mental gifts to enrich the lives of a select few. Minority communities of color, indigenous populations, ethnic groups, rich homelands and under developed countries have also been exploited because of laissez faire practices. It is time to enrich the lives of those who have suffered for so long.
Unfortunately corporate greed is an ominous threat to the sacrifices that have been made to preserve and deeply cultivate an appreciation for our planet, as well as groups, and communities, that have a history of exclusion. Non- profit work has made me realize that compliance with the law does not demand consciousness within its boundaries, nor does it requirement one to Do The Right Thing. These are thoughts of a young scholar who is hopeful for a cohesive global community where all entities and individuals are mindful of the consequences of their actions, and the impact of negligence.
The featured photo is of me, in front of the office!