Pope Francis: put people before profits

Pope Francis has said that the care of persons, rather than profits, must be at the centre of business.

Speaking to members of the Italian postal service the pope urged them to implement a business strategy “faithful to your original calling, to be at the service of the citizens.” The guiding principle of the Italian postal service is the care of persons and this, the pope said, must be evident not only in relations with customers but also with regard to employees. He lamented how, too often, the needs of families are ignored by businesses, while praising the postal service for caring for its workers and their families. 

He also urged the workers to “maintain an attitude of availability and goodwill”, encouraging them to be patient and courteous with customers. 

The Church teaches that economic initiative, be it in business or individually, is an expression of human intelligence and that everyone has a right to ‘make legitimate use of his talents to contribute to the abundance that will benefit all, and to harvest the fruits of his labour.’ This right of economic initiative must be protected and should never be weakened. The Church also teaches that the profit of a company is ‘the first indicator that a business is doing well’ and is something which is positive, not just for the company, but also for society. However, profit must not become the only pursuit of business. If this happens, there is a real danger that human dignity is being compromised through the exploitation of workers or a violation of workers’ rights. 

Business owners and management ‘must not limit themselves to taking into account only the economic objectives of the company’. The Church is clear that it is a precise duty of business ‘to respect concretely the human dignity of those who work within the company’. Workers are the most valuable asset of any firm and they must be respected.

Business is also called to ‘strive to structure work in such a way as to promote the family’. A business should establish policies which support the family, especially allowing for workers to spend time with their loved ones and not to become slaves to their work.