It used to be accepted without question that factory workers were cogs in an impersonal machine, and the most basic things, like safety on the job and medical coverage, were shirked. As workplace conditions went from appalling to acceptable, then from acceptable to fairly humane, it still remained true that a man left for work in the morning and came home at night as if traveling to a world apart from real life. Family, love, spirituality and often morality were home values, set apart from work values: efficiency, competition, exploitation, the drive for profits.

Perhaps it was the influx of women into the workforce or a more intangible shift in social awareness, but home values are beginning to infuse into the workplace. Beginning with worker safety, maternity leave and rules against sexual harassment, but also including anti-discrimination against the disabled, ethnic minorities and the elderly, we began to see a workplace where it was possible to be more completely human. You didn't take your work self to the job; you took your real self.

I look to this shift, in which the worker becomes a unit of consciousness, as a key factor in making corporations conscious. Work and worker have to feel worthy. The job has to be a path to personal growth. Those changes are emerging, not just in the industrialized West but in Asia as well, where workers begin their climb from a much lower rung. Many might think that I'm spouting moonbeams, but is there another way to view work in the future? Three decades of laws and regulations haven't kept corporations from continuing to pollute and depredate the environment. There aren't enough enforcement agencies to curb bad practices, and flagrant corporate violators have more than enough money and time to fend off their opponents.

As I see it, change will come from pressure on two sides. There's the alarming specter of foreign competition, recession, rising fuel costs and decreased resources on one side. Call those the external pressures. And there's the desire inside every person to be fulfilled. Call that the internal pressure. We constantly read about the first because externals are tangible, but the second is more important, because who we are inside is what life is really about. Corporations may seem to ignore that side of existence, yet in the end, they can't go on ignoring it. We will wind up with corporations as conscious as we are.

Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.

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