We asked company leaders to share how their goals as a BAM company fit with their goals for their people, and how that influenced their business planning and development.
Three BAM practitioners share from very different industries on how their strategy for their staff connects with their overall strategy to be a Kingdom-focused company.
IT Company in South Asia
We work hard to manage expectations upfront that the company exists only because of Jesus and has been dedicated to bringing glory to God. So 100% of our staff are aware of our high level BAM goals in that sense, but mostly just the around 15% of believers connect fully. The other 85% connect to our Kingdom goals of renewing our industry, providing meaningful work, raising up leaders worth following, and so on.
We spent years passionately praying for, discussing and trying to understand God’s purpose for the business. Saying that a business exists to make money is like saying I exist to breathe oxygen and keep blood flowing through my body to stay alive. We all have a purpose and calling as individuals and I believe we do as businesses as well.
We continue to seek and refine our purpose. It is an evolving thing with God revealing new layers and aspects, again, just like us as individuals. So in our early startup phase we spent an absurd amount of time navel-gazing, trying to understand the “WHY” and our employees saw this and see it today. They know they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Most of them acknowledge that Jesus is an important part of the company even if they don’t agree or like that. They know we don’t have it all figured out and fail often. But they have seen the process of us passionately seeking God, doing our best to follow God and simply asking them to, “Follow us as we follow Jesus”.
People are our business. Everyone will say that but we actually sell “labor” and access to smart people. Culture is essential for us, a competitive advantage. Our mission as a business, our motivation, etc. is also then a competitive advantage and so our BAM goals absolutely intersect and power our business model. We try to love and invest into people not because it makes for a good business (which it does), not because it is the right thing to do (it is), but because we see it as an opportunity to live out the gospel.
Hospitality Company in Southeast Asia
Our company operates as any for-profit entity would in most any country. Do business with integrity and put our customers first. Our staff know our values and these are posted in every staff room on large framed posters. We aim to employ managers that are believers as often as possible to help uphold our values and also to be a light for speaking into people’s lives, those that they work with.
We do businesses with integrity and unfortunately in Asia the lines of integrity are often much more blurry than in other parts of the world. This can be around issues like making false declarations of income or expenses for reducing taxes, or false invoicing for personal gain. Last week we fired a senior production supervisor who had worked with us for 15 years. She was a believer who was well paid and yet she compromised on our company values and ethics. She was working with a major supplier to over-inflate invoices and pocket kick-backs from the supplier. She even had seen her previous boss get fired for the same things a few years earlier. She cried and asked for a second chance, but none will be given for a serious issue like this. We will continue to affirm our values and ethics in everything we do. Though not every staff will get it, some do and it is great to see those staff that love this environment and who respond more seriously to other issues in life as a result of the trust and respect that they have for us as leaders.
When we launch in a new city we need to hire the right skill sets for each position. It has been hard initially finding skilled staff to fit the job that are also believers. Over time we can replace or hire more likeminded people into key positions, but usually not at launch. On the other hand, whenever we explain our company values to an interviewee – and tell them we will never ask them to compromise on these core values – their responses are amazing, even in the interview. Almost without fail they are attracted to work for a company with strong values.
Experienced managers and skilled staff who have already worked in the industry know how corrupt it typically is. They buy into our company values and the loyalty goes up greatly! Many of our most senior staff were offered jobs at our competitors even for double what we pay. They struggle to accept the job offers since they love the environment they are in. Even if we encourage them to take a new opportunity, they still remain friends and frequent our business.
Manufacturing in South Asia
From its inception in 2001 our mission statement encapsulates our core message and belief: In business for Freedom. People, not profit is what motivates us and drives us to be always focused on people. Although, yes of course, we must be profitable so that we can grow and take on more staff for freedom’s sake.
Working together with our staff for eight hours a day allows us incredible opportunities to share, cry, dream and support one another whilst doing our daily tasks of business. It is an upside down model where we ensure the management team serve and encourage those on their freedom journeys.
Each working day begins with community time where we hear The Word, pray and sing together. At the end of the day we also sing and pray together. For us all ultimate freedom is found in knowing the the One we follow. Business is a wonderful medium to share and live out daily the truth of our following Him together.
Planning for future growth and development must reflect the desire to grow. We seek to start new business units in areas that have high incidences of human trafficking as well as in other red light areas. Strategically we seek to multiply so that freedom is on offer both at source and destination.
Young girls are vulnerable when there are no economic solutions for their families and they are in dire poverty. If we are able to provide an economic solution we hope to stem the flow of trafficking. Thus we must plan and move into rural areas. To do this sustainably means we must also develop businesses that can thrive.
We now have two new business units operating in a rural district known for trafficking young girls into the city and indeed across our country. We seek and plan to grow these two, as well as starting more. We dream of new business units in other provinces and neighbouring countries. The bottom line is always profit for people. This motivates us to grow sustainably so we can offer the choice of freedom, ultimate freedom!
Compiled by Jo Plummer, with thanks to the BAM practitioners who shared part of their business story.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
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