By Rick Laymon, CFP, CKA
Every Saturday we share out through our social media platforms a special blog we call a Shining Light Company Spotlight. We believe that companies that operate based on biblical principles and who create meaningful value in the world have greater potential to outperform long term as compared to their counterparts who simply exist to exploit their various stakeholders to turn a profit. This thesis has been confirmed by various studies, including Bain & Company’s study on the correlation between Net Promoter Scores (measure of customer loyalty) and financial performance. Some example s of high profile companies that fit this description are Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby. While these are privately owned family businesses, we have identified several hundred publicly-traded companies that the same holds true for in varying degrees. We call these Shining Light Companies.
So, what do we look for in a Shining Light Company? These exemplary companies first and foremost value people over profits. Many of them who are more overt in expressing their Christian worldview are highly intentional about using their business as a platform for ministry and creating a God-honoring culture. Many use their success and their influence to actively promote faith and family values. A great example of this is the corporate purpose statement of Coca Cola Consolidated (largest independent bottler in the US): “To Glorify God in All We Do.” Some companies, like Encore Wire in Houston (largest US producer of copper wire), offer weekly bible studies on the shop floor. Many provide corporate chaplains to minster to the needs of their employees. Others like Alaska Airlines and Forever 21 share bible verses as part of their customer experience.
Secondly, Shining Light Companies produce products and provide services that serve a genuine need while fulfilling the second commandment to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” One favorite example of this is a company called Celgene, which has developed an innovative cancer therapy whereby blood is removed from the patient and the T-cells trained to attack the cancer cells upon reintroduction to the body; all without chemotherapy or radiation. Another is Tesla, the electric powered car manufacturer on mission to eliminate dependence upon fossil fuels for transportation and housing worldwide. Collegium is a biotechnology company that has developed a drug delivery system that makes it virtually impossible for patients to grind opioids into powder form that can then be abused.
Living out the Golden Rule extends further to how Shining Light Companies treat their suppliers, partners, customers and especially their employees — with great care, dignity and respect. Executives and employees alike are compensated fairly and are often incentivized by generous Pay For Performance programs that reward them individually for their direct contributions to the company’s success. One such company is Lincoln Electric where workers receive an average of 30% of their total compensation in the form of incentive pay. Employee well-being is further enhanced by robust benefit packages, which might include tuition assistance, financial education, health incentive programs, etc.
Servant leadership is another hallmark of a Shining Light Company. Servant leaders are characterized by humility. They think first about serving others and the well-being of all when making decisions. Rather than ruling from the proverbial ivory tower, the servant leader is in the field among the ranks, listening well, seeking and heeding wise counsel. In the words of Nelson Mandela, these remarkable men and women “lead from behind like a shepherd gathering and directing his flock.”It’s not unusual to see JetBlue’s CEO Dave Barger helping to load baggage and taking tickets. He attends most new employee orientation sessions and takes every opportunity to thank his employees. Taking flights, spending time with the employees, and talking to passengers on flights to get their feedback all feeds into JetBlue’s commitment to offer exceptional service.
Responsible stewardship of the resources and people entrusted to their care is the final prevalent attribute of great Shining Light Companies. As stewards, we all want to be mindful of our environmental impact. We also want to use resources wisely including giving back. Most of the companies we follow invest significantly in creating positive change in local communities in which they operate. This might be for promoting education, the arts, providing benevolence for the poor or combating sex trafficking, just to name a few. Many also invest significant dollars to support missions and other worthy gospel causes around the world.
As you can see, there are myriad reasons we are excited about redeploying capital into companies that meet our definition for what makes a Shining Light Company! Want to learn more about how we build portfolios of companies you can be proud to own? Check out our Shining Light Company Spotlight every Saturday morning on Facebook and LinkedIn and give us a call at (540) 345-3891 to get started today.
Financial Planning & Investment Advisory services offered through Beacon Wealth Consultants, Inc.