The common definition of faith-based organizations is non-profits providing service for people in need, including organizations like the Salvation Army, YMCA or Catholic Charities. While this is indeed the most mainstream definition, there are other organizations such as Tyson Foods, Interstate Battery and Hobby Lobby that include the religious beliefs of their leaders as a fundamental part of how they conduct business.
A Factor for Success
Both types of organizations attribute the foundational element of faith as a key factor for success. This steadfast belief system is a marker for an organization that has a strong moral compass, and for leaders that truly value their teams. In addition, the performance for many of these companies is the true indicator that this philosophy works. As a result, we see these types of organizations as great places for executive leaders with similar values to thrive and make successful contributions.
Ian Mitroff, Professor Emeritus at the USC School of Business, states that “spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.” A study* conducted by Gallup and the National Opinion Research Center revealed that those who worked for Christian business organizations where spiritual values were encouraged were less fearful and more committed to their workplace goals, as well as less likely to compromise their values.
A Few Examples
Tyson Foods has 115 chaplains on staff to provide a resource to the company’s employees and family regardless of their religious beliefs. The website goes on to say, “Faith-friendly is in our culture at Tyson Foods. Most of our Team Members come to work with spiritual commitments. They value the relationships in their lives. They come with a set of beliefs about themselves and their world and how one should live in the world. Even those who say they aren’t ‘religious’ often still bring these spiritual values with them. Here at Tyson Foods, these faith and spiritual commitments are valued and respected.” Tyson Foods earned $41.4 B in sales in 2015.
The In-N-Out burger chain has—at times throughout its history—included bible verses on the bottom of their packaging (on French fry bags and drink cups, as an example). The company is not bashful about outwardly sharing the beliefs of its founders, nor its success: In-N-Out burger opened its 300th store in 2015 and had $273 million in sales in 2014.
The Hobby Lobby corporate website tells of the stores origins and its founders David and Barbara Green, and includes this statement, “We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. God has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future.” The company is not open on Sundays so their employees can observe their religious traditions. Hobby Lobby is listed at #118 on the Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies list with reported revenues of $3.7 billion.
Interstate Battery is now a billion-plus dollar, privately held corporation with this published mission statement, “To glorify God and enrich lives as we deliver the most trustworthy source of power to the world.” Similar to Tyson Foods, Interstate also has a Corporate Chaplain on staff. The faith focus works, as the Dallas Morning News has reported Interstate as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work for six years running.
Jeffrey Swartz, the Jewish billionaire who ran his family’s Timberland shoes and clothing business (founded in 1952), sold it in 2011 for $2 billion when he learned human rights were being violated at the company’s Chinese factory. Swartz is a public human rights activist and observant Jew who wakes up every morning at 4:00 am to read the Torah.
Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach is one of the wealthiest in California. F&M assets hit a record $6.1 billion as reported in their 2015 year-end financial statements. In their 100-Year Book posted on F&M’s website, the first page describes its founder as a “tough and humble Christian businessman,” and outlines that the bank has “…remained anchored to its Christian principles, is unselfish and generous to its community, is patriotic to its country and continues to uphold a steadfast tradition of providing its customers with a family-managed bank that is strong, conservative and friendly.”
A Positive Driver for Success
Not only are these types of faith-based companies committed to integrity, excellence and their employees, but they are also profitable organizations that are growing and leading in their respective markets. In today’s challenging work environment, could this be the ultimate differentiator?
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*The Next American Spirituality, Author: George Gallup Jr.