The headline in the Dallas Morning News reads “Pilgrim’s Pride to cut 1,100 jobs as feed costs soar.” I also noticed that the stock price of the nation’s largest chicken producer has plummeted over $10 in the last six months. Even though the headline implies a simple exchange, I’m sure that the business equation for Pilgrim is much more complicated than trading employees with families to feed for chicken feed in order to increase stockholder value. My hope is that company officials weighed the needs of all the “shareholders”—not just the stockholders—when they made the decision to furlough workers.
The Bible is very positive about work, business, and profit. Obviously without profit everyone loses. But profit is not the only end of business. Business leaders face a huge dilemma when stockholders pit their demands against the other stakeholders in a company. Employees, suppliers, customers, and local communities all have a stake in a company, not just those who own stock. In his book, Joy at Work, Dennis Bakke suggests that company leaders need to consider all the shareholders in making business decisions. Business leaders who choose to increase shareholder value at the expense of everything else might gain praise from Wall Street, but not Main Street—and not from Him who makes their business possible in the first place. There’s a reward more important that a fat executive bonus for increasing stock value and that is to stand before the Ultimate Stakeholder in your business and hear from his lips, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Read more about God’s values in the workplace in Colossians 3:22-4:6.