I just attended the Commit Forum in NYC, a two day event on corporate responsibility. The sponsors rate all the companies in the Russell 1000, placing them on a best to worst scale for the practice of corporate responsibility. It turns out that companies who rank in the Top 100 for corporate responsibility outperform the S&P 500 by a considerable margin. But that comes not from the profit-maximization ethos that lies behind agency theory. It comes from a qualitative belief in the value of service as part of the way one does business. The good companies set a higher bar, ask people to live by higher standards, elicit greater competence, and achieve better results. It isn’t about dollars, alone; it’s also about doing business in ways that give life more meaning.