JoAnn Flett is director of Eastern University's MBA in Economic Development.
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Business and the Gospel of Enough
JoAnn Flett decided at a young age that she loved both spreadsheets and Jesus. After more than 20 years of senior accounting and management experience, she now directs the masters in business administration program at Eastern University, a theologically informed curriculum with a strong sense of social justice that equips students with business acumen to serve God and society through business. She sat with Sojourners senior associate editor Julie Polter in June to tell her story.—The Editors
When we think of the church and business, we tend to think of them at opposite ends of a spectrum. We often think of businesspeople as a certain kind of person, one that doesn’t conjure up the best images of humanity.
I was privileged, early on, to have friends who were very successful business leaders. What drew me to them was that they were people whose faith mattered to them; they led their organizations without making a big fanfare about this, but they were leading from a faith perspective.
I admired that they ran successful companies that transformed their employees, their business partners, and their local communities. But nobody seemed to celebrate them in their local churches. It’s easy to think of teachers and nurses, people in the “helping professions,” as doing God’s work. Yet there are people of faith who lead powerful and influential organizations. These people go to work and make critical decisions, and their faith has all kinds of implications about how they live in the world, but their work is not being affirmed on Sunday.
A Kairos Moment for Just Business in Society
This present social climate presents a kairos moment for businesses pursuing social justice. In a recent New York Times interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out, “I think [business leaders] have a moral responsibility to help grow the economy, to help grow jobs, to contribute to this country and to contribute to the other countries that we do business in.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Spotlight on The Summit 2017: The Role of Business in Driving a Just Economy
Editor’s Note: The Summit: World Change Through Faith and Justice is one of the powerful opportunities Sojourners has as an organization to bring together 300+ of our leaders together to deepen relationships and build more intersectional movements. The following series of posts offer reflections from participants to offer a glimpse of the experience. We are grateful for the ways you make this gathering possible. Our first reflection comes from JoAnn Flett, director of Eastern University's MBA in Economic Development and the facilitator the Summit’s 2017 Business Convening.