Stewardship is a business strategy and philosophy that challenges a narrow focus on the bottom line. It emphasizes replacing self-interest with accountability and service to something bigger. Within a stewardship model, managers adopt an inclusive view that seeks to benefit all stakeholders affected by business activities, including employees, suppliers, customers, community and the environment.
Dimensions of Stewardship
One dimension of stewardship in business is the creation of a service-oriented workplace culture. For example, management can abandon traditional top-down lines of authority in favor of distributing decision making power to employees close to actual operations whenever possible. Another step is the elimination of symbolic “perks,” like reserved parking spaces and lavish offices that don’t foster teamwork. A second dimension of stewardship is a serious commitment to socially responsible policies. Examples include choosing fair trade vendors when selecting suppliers and supporting the community through charitable activities. Environmental issues are at the center of another important aspect of stewardship for all businesses, but especially for manufacturing firms. Environmental stewardship can be as simple as substituting digital communication for paper documents. Saving paper reduces environmental impact and lowers costs. Development of innovations that eliminate waste and pollution and thus minimize negative environmental impact is another strategy to promote environmental stewardship.