We can compare the impact that firms will have on the social fabric of society in the twenty-first century with the impact firms had in the twentieth century on the natural environment and will continue to have in the next centuries. Firms, among the most powerful and influential institutions of our society, have the potential to transform our way of living, even our way of thinking, for the better and for the worse. They are generators of wealth and waste. The emergence of corporate social responsibility, often as a response to much of the waste created, holds the promise that company owners, executive boards, and CEOs are starting to understand the constructive and destructive power of the institutions they create.
One of the major challenges or types of waste companies will have to learn to come to terms with is stress. There is ample evidence showing how stress impacts the health and well-being of individuals, and that work-related stress is one of the major causes of strain. In the US, 43 percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and 75–90 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide (American Psychological Association, 1997).