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Companies learn to make values-driven decisions

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Ed Hoy, 91, owns Ed Hoy International, 27625 Diehl Road, Warrenville. He says he still enjoys coming to work, a stained-glass product and material company. | Submitted

Updated: March 18, 2012 8:09AM

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests that demanded reform within financial institutions was one way to raise awareness about what has gone wrong in the business and financial world. Benedictine University in Lisle has taken another approach toward that end, and maybe convincing business owners there is a way to be successful by investing in living capital and not just the bottom line.

In April, the university launched the Center for Values Driven Leadership doctoral program. One of the program’s core principles is to show how business can be conducted profitably “by learning how to meet strategic business goals without making ethical compromises.”

Elliott Peppers, national media coordinator for the university, said enrollment in the program was completely filled from the start.

“We are full until the next registration comes around two years after the initial launch, and this is a program it seems people were demanding,” Peppers said.

Studies have shown, Peppers said, that many of the most profitable and fastest-growing companies today are values based.

“The ideas our speakers and instructors are focused on say that profitability is tied to responsibility, and that people who listen to their customer and shareholder base will make a profit that is still based on what is good for the environment and the community,” he said.

James Ludema, program co-founder and director, said training business leaders how to become “values driven” represents one of the goals of the program.

“In talking with our students and companies around Chicago and the country, people kept saying they know that being a values-driven company benefits society and actually leads to higher profits, but they didn’t know how you get there,” Ludema said. “How you change your organization to be a values-driven, socially responsible company or a highly sustainable organization is the question that we answer through the CVDL.”

Peppers said that some major local businesses such as Nicor already have joined the Benedictine movement by helping to sponsor some of the program’s events. Business owners like Judy Philip, who leads Naperville-based Extra Edge, a small-business development consulting service, says that part of her company’s vision and mission are to provide service to charities and the community alike.

“It has been my dream my whole life to have my own business but also be a part of something where I am connected to the community,” Philip, 43, said. “I’ve been working with a homeless shelter raising money and also coordinating volunteers. Being successful in business and giving back is something I also talk about when I consult with companies.”

Like Ludema, Philip says there are companies who “don’t know how to give back as part of their strategic plan.”

“I am working with a company right now that is making community service a part of their mission,” she said. “Employees are volunteering and not just doing it at Christmas and then forgetting about it. They’re excited and want to be involved the whole year.”

Ed Hoy has operated Warrenville-based Ed Hoy International, a stained-glass product and material company, for more than four decades. He believes he has demonstrated a lifetime’s worth of advocacy for value-oriented business practices.

“I still enjoy coming to work at my age and realize that this is how people who buy our supplies make their livelihood,” Hoy, 91 said. “Your reputation goes with you, and this is a good, clean business I want people to support years from now. Being cut throat isn’t the way to be successful, and we wouldn’t have become the biggest supplier in the country if we were.”

Bob Jung owns Bob Jung Painting and is a former Small Business of the Year winner from the Naperville Chamber of Commerce. He said he has passed up work because he couldn’t deliver a level of service that meets his own criteria for excellence.

“There are jobs I’ve turned down because I knew I couldn’t finish them before the end of a season or I’d have to pull too many guys off of other jobs they were doing,” Jung, 42, said. “I’ve lost some really big accounts, but I won’t compromise, and I want to do a job one time and the right way.”

He also donates his time to charity.

“I’ve done work for charity groups, and whereas I might have given people money, now I give away my time and work for them,” he said. “Each year, I find myself doing more.”

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