As the saying goes, a man becomes the company he keeps.
Just the same, a company becomes the culture they create.
Whatever is regularly affecting the lives of its workers becomes an indication of what type of noble accomplishments the company will make. The Guinness culture changed the lives of its workers, helped eradicate the poverty in Dublin and served as a model for other companies on how to care for their employees. The culture of faith, kindness and generosity at Guinness taught men how seek ways to serve their fellow men and turn harshness to joy.
In 1990, Dublin was overcrowded and starvation and disease was rampant. It was the point in time that the culture propagated by Guinness moved out to the streets of Dublin and allowed men to serve the streets of a city that was dying. Guinness was able to demonstrate what good their righteous wealth can do.
Dublin was rife with filth and disease. It had become a cesspool, people were living in squalor, sickness and had all the vices known to man. It had the highest rates of contagious diseases and the highest death rate in all of Europe. There was an epidemic of smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, typhus, whooping cough, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever and tuberculosis. These diseases were spreading at an unprecedented rate. Most of the misery and sickness was caused by the overcrowding which came about by the hordes of immigrants swarming to Dublin in 1840’s to escape troubled lives in their own land. So the poor, weak and sick people were all corralled into the city of Dublin. A majority of the agony, pain and sickness was self-induced. These people in Dublin that were extremely overcrowded regularly dumped their sewage into the same river that served as their source of drinking water.
There was also the revered Irish tradition of waking the dead and this played a major role in spreading the diseases around. (This was the process of laying out the body of a departed relative in the house where they lived and died. All of the family and quite a few of the deceased one’s neighbors and friends would gather at the house. The body was usually laid out in the parlor of the house or living room. There would be lots of food and plenty of drink to be consumed. People would come and socialize and remember the departed person’s life. This wasn’t a time for tears to say the least, it was quite a party and hardly resembled a funeral. It was the traditional Irish way of celebrating one’s life and ensuring that they had a good send off. A proper Irish Wake was pretty wild in the old customs of that period.) It was common for the body of a loved one to lay for as many as four nights. The mourners exposed themselves to whatever it was that killed the deceased. One historian called Dublin, “A city of the damned.”
Doctor John Lumsden had just become the chief medical officer at the Guinness brewery. He was an extraordinary man, devoted Christian with a calling that would allow Guinness to effect the lives of thousands, change Dublin for the good and break new ground in corporate social responsibility. Doctor Lumsden wanted to serve his fellow man and alleviate suffering in Dublin. He figured out that if he could change the housing and living conditions he could really make a difference. He talked the Guinness board of directors into letting him visit every home of the workers and their relatives. This was 2,287 employees and 7,343 dependents. The board supported him and they found that over 35 percent of the homes were actually inhabitable. The descriptions were wrenching and I encourage you to get Mansfield’s book to read the details. It was much worse than you can think as a modern citizen. The Doctor outlined a large list of goals and tasks to eradicate the squalor.
The Guinness board convened on 1901 and eagerly followed the Doctors recommendations. What an amazing benevolent move for the Guinness firm. They absolutely adopted the vision that Doctor Lumsden put before them and approved the funding although they knew the cost was enormous. It is an amazing show of the desire that Guinness had to fulfill a legacy of compassion and generosity. The result of the labor, compassion and expense was that Guinness acquired a reputation of caring for its employees that was second to none. The company earned that reputation in the city that was named the deadliest city in Europe.
For his work in all he did to serve society, Dr. Lumsden was knighted by King George V, which was very well deserved.
Doctor Lumsden had the vision, but he could have never done it alone. He needed the strength of a culture of social concern, love of mankind and generosity. He needed a vehicle, wise and wealthy men to stand in battle with him and help him save human lives. That is what Guinness gave to him. That is what Guinness and the doctor gave to the people of Dublin. That is just one small example of what kind of good righteous wealth can do.
If you missed the last post you can jump back there and read it by clicking on the Mansfield book.
Come back for the next post when we learn about the Guinnesses for God. In fact you can CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE NEXT POST.
Till then, may the Lord richly bless you,