Everything you need to know about business ethics…from a factory visit

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ManufacturingBasics

Recently I was invited to visit and tour the factory owned by one of my long-time friends. This was the first time I have ever visited a factory, and I was excited to learn about the manufacturing process. I spent two hours walking around the plants’ three buildings, amazed by the complex production lines and the fascinating robotic machines. The business is a huge international enterprise that dominates the field. Beyond the size, sophistication, product line diversity, commitment to quality and efficiency that I observed, what impressed me most was my friend’s management style. What I saw yesterday was natural leadership by the boss. As he introduced me to dozens of workers who operated various machines, he greeted each by name. Each employee received a smile, direct eye contact, and acknowledgment of who they are and what they do. He knew and shared with me all of the events going on in their lives, whether it was someone who had just become a grandfather, someone who recently had a child, or someone who had started at the company when the owner was a young child.  My friend explained matter-of-factly that he provides full medical benefits for his employees and the many other ways he supports his employees and their families. The employees’ positive attitudes and a caring attitude about their work was palpable.

Jewish texts and teachings about the ethics and morals of earning a living and the rights of workers abound. More than 100 of the Bible’s commandments address concerns of business and economics. Biblical law is very concerned with the worker’s welfare and dignity. Biblical prophets often preached from the marketplace, rather than from a lectern in the Jerusalem Temple. They sternly denounced employers who delayed in paying their workers – even by a single day! Rabbinic thinkers translated many of the prophetic teachings regarding justice and righteousness directly to the arena of business. How was a worker to be treated? How many hours should he work? Should a worker receive food as part of his compensation? Are there occasions when a worker could leave his work and not return to it at all? How often should a worker be paid?

Businesses which exist solely to maximize profit become disconnected from their soul—and from the spiritual interconnectedness of humanity. Imagine a world in which all people would heed the timeless wisdom of the Talmud (Baba Kama 30a) which states: “Whoever wants to be saintly should live according to the laws of the Talmud dealing with commerce and finance.”

The importance of business ethics in Judaism is emphasized by the Talmudic text which notes that when a person is brought before the heavenly court for judgment after his death, he is asked several questions. The very first question asked in heaven is “Did you conduct your business affairs honestly?” Our tradition teaches us that God’s first concern is personal decency.

In the workplace, people who feel valued and are treated with respect and dignity will tend to go the extra mile, demonstrate their loyalty, and excel in their work. I am grateful that my first ever factory visit was such an outstanding exemplar of how to do right!

Congratulations to my friend on being a great boss and manager, as well as an all-round mensch (nice guy)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently I was invited to visit and tour the factory owned by one of my long-time friends. This was the first time I have ever visited a factory, and I was excited to learn about the manufacturing process. I spent two hours walking around the plants’ three buildings, amazed by the complex production lines and the fascinating robotic machines. The business is a huge international enterprise that dominates the field. Beyond the size, sophistication, product line diversity, commitment to quality and efficiency that I observed, what impressed me most was my friend’s management style. What I saw yesterday was natural leadership by the boss. As he introduced me to dozens of workers who operated various machines, he greeted each by name. Each employee received a smile, direct eye contact, and acknowledgment of who they are and what they do. He knew and shared with me all of the events going on in their lives, whether it was someone who had just become a grandfather, someone who recently had a child, or someone who had started at the company when the owner was a young child.  My friend explained matter-of-factly that he provides full medical benefits for his employees and the many other ways he supports his employees and their families. The employees’ positive attitudes and a caring attitude about their work was palpable.

Jewish texts and teachings about the ethics and morals of earning a living and the rights of workers abound. More than 100 of the Bible’s commandments address concerns of business and economics. Biblical law is very concerned with the worker’s welfare and dignity. Biblical prophets often preached from the marketplace, rather than from a lectern in the Jerusalem Temple. They sternly denounced employers who delayed in paying their workers – even by a single day! Rabbinic thinkers translated many of the prophetic teachings regarding justice and righteousness directly to the arena of business. How was a worker to be treated? How many hours should he work? Should a worker receive food as part of his compensation? Are there occasions when a worker could leave his work and not return to it at all? How often should a worker be paid?

Businesses which exist solely to maximize profit become disconnected from their soul—and from the spiritual interconnectedness of humanity. Imagine a world in which all people would heed the timeless wisdom of the Talmud (Baba Kama 30a) which states: “Whoever wants to be saintly should live according to the laws of the Talmud dealing with commerce and finance.”

The importance of business ethics in Judaism is emphasized by the Talmudic text which notes that when a person is brought before the heavenly court for judgment after his death, he is asked several questions. The very first question asked in heaven is “Did you conduct your business affairs honestly?” Our tradition teaches us that God’s first concern is personal decency.

In the workplace, people who feel valued and are treated with respect and dignity will tend to go the extra mile, demonstrate their loyalty, and excel in their work. I am grateful that my first ever factory visit was such an outstanding exemplar of how to do right!

Congratulations to my friend on being a great boss and manager, as well as an all-round mensch (nice guy)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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