How One Company Grew a Generous Business
A unique new brand of corporate giving is emerging, and one of its leaders is Mike Mulcahy of Bridgeway Capital Management in Houston, TX. "We're committed to taking the idea of stewardship in business to a whole new level," says Mulcahy, a Partner and Director at Bridgeway. "We feel called to be a bridge between our business success and the enormous needs around the world. As a result, we are building a business model we call a Generous Business."
Mulcahy quickly learned how generous his job would require him to be when he showed up for his first day of work on December 2, 2002. John Montgomery, the founder and CEO of Bridgeway, announced that he had just thirteen days to determine the charitable recipients of a large sum of money. Mulcahy notes that he was confused, since he had just started at the company. But he quickly learned from the other partners that Bridgeway had set aside some of its profits for him to give away!
It became clear to him that Bridgeway, as a company, placed a very high priority on its charitable giving program and likewise encouraged its employees to be generous as well. Initially, Mulcahy found those decisions hard to make, due especially to the substantial size of the sums that were being granted. He notes, "Giving had not been part of my routine beyond church. To give a sum of money that challenged me to look beyond what I'd been giving was quite an exercise. That was exciting."
This challenge to give is one of the hallmarks of a Generous Business, which Mulcahy defines as a "company committed to challenging its owners, staff, and families to lead transformative change through the joy of giving." He goes on to say, "While the program often starts with a generous owner, the vision for generous giving goes well beyond the owner and culminates with staff members and their families passionately giving from their resources as they seek to transform the world."
A Generous Business uses the talents of its people and the fruits of their efforts (that is, profits) to make a positive difference in the world through generosity. To achieve this, a Generous Business creates and shares a culture of stewardship where staff members are actively engaged in the giving culture.
Mulcahy says, "At Bridgeway, we've discovered that as people in and around our company experience the joy of giving, they are transformed and so is our business. Since we have seen the overwhelming positive impact of generosity on Bridgeway, we try to encourage other business leaders to step out and make a bold commitment toward creating their own Generous Business."
Why Do This?
While it may seem counter-productive to promote giving as a company goal, the leaders at Bridgeway say they have experienced many real benefits over the years from operating a Generous Business. Here are some of the primary reasons that have compelled Bridgeway to embrace the generous lifestyle:
- They Feel a Call to Stewardship. Bridgeway Capital Management's leaders see themselves as servant leaders. For example, Bridgeway's founder, John Montgomery, says, "Each day I dedicate all that I am and all that I have to God as part of my spiritual practice. That includes my ownership of the company."
- It Creates Meaningful Work. The emphasis on stewardship shifts the definition of value from just “dollar profits” to “world impact.” The business is not just about the bottomline or making the owners richer; it’s about taking care of customers while changing the world. James McKissick, one of Bridgeway’s traders for nine years explains, “It is important for me to feel like I am a part of something that is bigger than me. When I know that the time and talents that I am using during the business day will produce profits that will be used to help others in my community and throughout the world that gets me excited. I want to be where God is doing things. Life is much richer when the purpose at work is not just to pull a paycheck.
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