“Conscious” Capitalism? An oxymoron it is not. It is a movement sweeping across the globe and growing in size, popularity and in the impact that it is having for those business leaders who embrace it. It, in my opinion, should become the standard by which businesses are evaluated for investment and judged in the court of public opinion for its popularity by the consumer. A bold statement indeed, and maybe one better served as a vision for an ideal world, but the pragmatic nature of its four core tenants give it great viability.
I first read about Conscious Capitalism® a couple years ago while reading an issue of Inc. magazine. I came across a brief interview with someone (who for the life of me I cannot remember) that referenced Conscious Capitalism® and attributed a large part of their business’s success to having instituted their core tenants (or “pillars” as they are called) into their company’s corporate mission. Soon after, I found myself researching Conscious Capitalism® online, perusing their website, watching their YouTube videos, and reading and watching other interviews and columns on the same. It did not take long for me to realize that I had come across something that was incredibly in-line, on multiple levels, with how I had been running and managing Epic Capital. And better yet, how I wanted to run and grow Epic Capital going forward – with a greater purpose, with our values intact, and for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Every business should have a purpose beyond making money. In the words of Ed Freeman, “We need red blood cells to live (the same way a business needs profits to live), but the purpose of life is more than to make red blood cells (the same way the purpose of business is more than simply to generate profits).” That couldn’t ring more true in the Conscious Capitalist Credo which starts out by stating: A business is inherently good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.
The four “pillars” of Conscious Capitalism® are as follows: Higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture. The four are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. They represent the essential elements of an integrated business philosophy. Higher purpose and core values are central to a conscious business and all the other tenets connect back to these foundational ideas.
Conscious businesses are driven by higher purposes that serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders. They have conscious leaders who are driven by service to the company’s purpose, all the people the business touches and the planet we all share together. Conscious businesses have trusting, authentic, innovative and caring cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment. They endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders.
Within 6-months of my reading (and researching) about Conscious Capitalism®, I was on a plane heading to Chicago to attend their annual conference. Let me say this, in my 20+ years as a financial advisor who has attended countless conferences, I have never had a more enjoyable experience with more concrete and value-driven content than I did during those 3-days in Chicago at Conscious Capitalism®. Beyond that, there was also an incredibly refreshing feeling to be among extraordinarily passionate and talented people from all industries and all walks of life, from all over the globe. People who wanted their business to make a real difference for their customers, their employees, their vendors, and to serve a greater good while doing it. Now think about being in a room with hundreds or even thousands of financial advisors …
The goal of Conscious Capitalism® is to challenge business leaders to rethink why their organizations exist, and to acknowledge their roles in the interdependent global marketplace and to steer capitalism away from today’s growing trend of cronyism. It challenges the notion that stakeholders in business are inherently opposed to one another. When businesses operate with higher purpose beyond profits and create value for all stakeholders, tradeoffs are largely eliminated, performance is elevated and the entire system flourishes. Everyone wins. Remember, business is not a zero-sum game. Best of all, it is grounded in a higher purpose to enhance its positive impact on the world.
I’ll be flying back to Chicago next week to Conscious Capitalism® 2016 to reunite with great new friends, rub elbows with global business influencers, chat with other passionate business owners, and listen and interact through the selection of general sessions and numerous practicums. A focus of mine will also be to interact with other Chapter Leaders from around the country to bring back ideas for the official launching of Conscious Capitalism Charlotte which I started mid last year. More on that to come!
If you are curious as to what companies you may know that embrace the core principals of Conscious Capitalism, here are a few: Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, Whole Foods, Toms, Zappos, Ikea, Starbucks, REI and Trader Joes. Pretty impressive list, wouldn’t you say? If you would like to learn more about Conscious Capitalism please visit their website at http://www.consciouscapitalism.org If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our local chapter, please e-mail me at edoughty@EpicCapital.com
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