Spirituality is soundless and formless. It has an unseen pleasant aroma. It doesn’t alter itself with changing trends or times. The moment it manifests itself in any person, that individual liberates himself/herself from all forms of limitations. It is hence not the outward form that reveals an individual, it is the inner spirit that does so, by the way, the person behaves with him/herself and others. There is no specific definition of ‘spirituality’. It gets confused with several soft skills and positive human virtues. UNESCO, in its pursuit of gaining recognition of the importance of faith and spirituality, for attaining universal peace, has in its constitution attempted to say what spirituality is; it reads, ‘since wars begin in the minds of men, it is the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed’.
Sri Aurobindo says, ‘a spiritual atmosphere is more important than outer conditions; if one can get that and also create one’s own spiritual air to breathe in and live in it, that is the true condition of progress. Instituting a spiritual culture is an arduous task, the journey usually a long-drawn one, covering many years if not decades, has to be pursued.
Perhaps it would be unfair and unequal judgement to believe that an organisation can claim spirituality by virtue of having in place a well-documented corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. Whilst having a policy is important, it is, however, only in its implementation that it can make an effective contribution. There is a mistaken belief that an entity that gives some portion of its profits for welfare activities, directed towards society’s upliftment, accords it, a sense of spirituality. Nay, it doesn’t.
Giving money alone does not confer a sublime status for the organisation. Any Alibaba (not Jack Ma’s but as in the story of 40 thieves and him) can loot, plunder, and amass at the cost of the society, and later gives away a good portion of it to the needy segments of society, does not make him or his cohorts, ‘socially responsible’. In the quest to make or gain spirituality at work, no organisation can afford to behave like they are Robin Hoods operating in the Sherwood forests; Rob Peter to pay Paul. So, if it is not money alone, what is it, that will entitle an organisation to be a responsible corporate? Primarily it is the concept of ‘Giving’, in all its format and dimensions.
Giving is not limited to hard cash, it includes sublime concepts like having time to spend in the cause the entity may adopt. We witness, that photographs are taken and posted on all formats of media by the giver, (corporate) to NGO’s and like thereof, of cheques and then there is nothing beyond. No commitment of overseeing and supervising the funds parted with. The ‘responsibility’ part starts after the money has been dispersed. Again, this allocation of time to the cause is one small aspect. Another major factor is attending to the concept of being spiritually responsible.
I am aware, from the annals of corporate history, that there was one such organisation, that as part of its CSR, gave a definitive sum, each year to every single staff member with a plea to add their ‘two cents’ to the sum and offer it as a contribution towards any social development project or cause of their interest. The inspired individuals did so. The inconsequent culture in the organisation was one of ‘giving’ and later —— when expanded as a management tool, it meant that every individual was made available to the other with no motive or malice, in offering assistance, in the discharge of their corporate responsibility so that the collective corporate objectives could be achieved in harmony.
In my personal view, before enshrinement of a policy, at the corporate entity level organisations must heed to encourage, all staff, to write a 5-sentence (minimum) personal pledge of how they would contribute, with their available time and resources, to any cause ‘of their choice’. I would like to christen this document(s) as ‘Individual Social Responsibility’. If there is no commitment from the staff, then, flaunting a CSR policy document, with available sums to dish out does not lend credence, to achieving any spiritual environment.
individuals once grouped together represent the organisation; hence failure to have ISR, cannot beget a good CSR status of a higher spiritual plane. ISR helps direct equanimity with the CSR policy. Any colleague, who has documented ISR will be free of envy, jealousy, impatience, limitations and anxieties. Possessed of such individuals, it will be but a natural process, to see the emergence of ‘spirituality’ at the workplace. Spirituality can be achieved only when the corporate social responsibility policy dominates the behaviour of its constituents. An organisation that gives loads of charity, but where its workers are mistreated or are themselves extremely less privileged then how can there be any spirituality in such a workplace?
A manager possessed of ‘feelings’ helps create a spiritual environment which in turn is invariably an innocent expression of moral security, for all members of the entity. Feeling the pain of society is more pleasurable, than feeling the pleasure of it may have. There must be more sympathy. Corporates with spirituality as their cornerstone of endeavour will have demonstrable humanitarianism in their approach to people and to business.
The state of mind is the birthplace of spirituality, once delivered, it springs forth feelings of benevolence, attributes of faith and confidence, with elements of justice, as its crucial pillar, to the edifice. Those whose inner person/spirit is either in sleep mode or dead will remain subservient and obedient to the environment. It shall lack the courage to confront. The urge to give vigorously to the surroundings, our inner spirit will yield a peaceful working environment. If the staff is in reset mode, then that is the time to visit the CSR document to see, if does in incorporates enough incentives to usher personal commitment of staff members to both individual responsibility and corporate responsibility for ensuring the emergence of a spiritual environment.
The leadership of late, has gone through hair-splitting definitions; from autocratic to democratic, from master to servant leader, from authentic (?) to the spiritual leader. CEOs and leaders are expected to possess a high quotient of empathy —— this is one major ingredient for spiritual corporate culture. If a manager doesn’t ‘feel for teammates’, it is unlikely that undiluted commitment will be had from them. Spirituality is going beyond the material in the scene —— to get the best, the manager must possess the best skills to relate to the inner calls of emotions of their colleagues. The ‘Light’’ from within cannot be dimmed then.
Spirituality is not housed on the uppermost floor of the corporate hierarchy, it is not a separate department or even a concept that can create an office of ‘chief spirituality officer’ —— the CEO and senior management have to have it in them through their actions, only then can it pervade the institution. Spirituality co extends itself to all aspects of personal and work life.
I recall reading a remark that said I believe in hearing the inaudible, touching the intangible, and seeing the invisible. That must be the quest of ‘all in the organisation and not a mere few’ If the desire is to be in the joys of a spiritual culture’. Borrowing from the works of Susan Taylor (c.1946): the most sacred place isn’t the church, mosque or temple, it is the temple of the body. That’s where spirit resides.
Human intelligence is spread over 3 major quotients, that is IQ (intelligence), EQ (emotional) and SQ (spiritual); organisations focus on the first two while ignoring the sheet anchor quotient of human behaviour, consequently, we have rapid changes in the list of Top 500 fortune companies. Spiritually dead organisations decay and wither without any epitaph or tombstone.
The writer is a senior banker and a freelance columnist