Mindfulness in Corporate America: Is the Trojan Horse Ethical?
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Wolever, Ruth Q., Schwartz, E. Robert, and Schoenberg, Poppy L.A. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Published Online: 2 May 2018
Osher Collaborative Forum: Outlooks, Opinions and Opportunities
This is the second column of the new JACM/Osher Collaborative partnership.
Ruth Q. Wolever, PhD, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
E. Robert Schwartz, MD, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Poppy L.A. Schoenberg, PhD, CPsychol, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Meditation and mindfulness is a billion dollar industry with 22% of Fortune 500 companies implementing workplace mindfulness in 2016. Multiple schools of business, law, nursing, and medicine now include mindfulness training in professional curricula. The promise of mindfulness fits the needs of corporate America: improve employee health and quality of life, while enhancing productivity and the bottom line.
Although it is exciting that mindfulness-related programs are increasingly offered in the workplace, it also presents interesting quandaries. Is it appropriate to principally use mindfulness to increase profit margins? Is it authentic to present mindfulness as a secular practice, bereft of the ethical foundation of Buddhism? And how, in particular, does this align with the legal responsibility of a corporation to value above all maximum profits for its shareholders? This piece explores the benefits and concerns of disseminating mindfulness through corporate America, and offers a framework for moving it forward.