The heart of the company starts at the head

Feb 7, 2017

In a speech at Western Michigan University, Martin Luther King (1963) addressed the idea that “legislation cannot really solve the problem … in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals.”

The problem with morals and ethics is they must gain strength through practice (Clarke & Bassell, 2013). They are the job of education and religion.

A company is no better than its leadership and what its leadership practices and allows.

It appears, when laws are very favorable toward business, some over reach to gain as much financial benefit as possible (Dahlin, 2007). When greed rears its head, corruption isn’t far behind. If it has the resemblance of being legal, it only emboldens some to over reach more than others. This is when hubris appears and corporate narcissism takes on an air of infallibility (Rijsenbilt & Commandeur, 2013).

Some individuals give from the pocket. Some give from the heart. Both may contribute the same amount of money. However, the motivations are different. True social responsibility emanates from the heart.


Clarke, C., & Bassell, M. (2013). The Financial Debacle Necessitates a Systematic Approach to Achieving Ethical Behavior in the Corporate Workplace. Journal of Business Systems, Governance & Ethics, 8(1), 22-33. Melbourne, Victoria: Victoria University, Business & Law, College of Law & Justice.

Dahlin, L. A. (2007). Where have all the Ethics Gone? Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Through the Years. Proceedings of The Northeast Business & Economics Association, 360-366. Worcester, MA: Northeast Business & Economics Association.

King, Jr., M. L. (December 18, 1963). Address at Western Michigan University. (As cited in Klusendorf, S. (n.d.). The case for life: Equipping Christians to engage the culture.)

Rijsenbilt, A., & Commandeur, H. (2013). Narcissus enters the courtroom: CEO narcissism and fraud. Journal of Business Ethics, 117 (2), 413-429. Dordrecht, GZ, Netherlands: Springer Science & Business Media B.V.

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