Conscious Capitalism builds on the foundations of Capitalism - voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law. These are essential to a healthy functioning economy, as are other elements of Conscious Capitalism including trust, compassion, collaboration and value creation.
Conscious Capitalism comes to life as it is applied to business. Conscious Capitalism has four pillars guiding and underlying a business that practices Conscious Capitalism.
In the words of University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc trustee 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).”
While making money is essential for the vitality and sustainability of a business, it is not the only or even the most important reason a business exists. Conscious businesses focus on their purpose beyond profit.
We all need meaning and purpose in our lives. It is one of the things that separates us from other animals. Purpose activates us and motivates us. It moves us to get up in the morning, sustains us when times get tough and serves as a guiding star when we stray off course. Conscious Businesses provide us with this sense of meaning and purpose.
By focusing on its deeper Purpose, a conscious business inspires, engages and energizes its stakeholders. Employees, customers and others trust and even love companies that have an inspiring purpose.
Pioneering naturalist John Muir observed that “when you tug at a single thing in nature, you find it attached to the rest of the world.” Such is the case with business, which is an intricate and interconnected web of relationships.
Unlike some businesses that believe they only exist to maximize return on investment for their shareholders, Conscious Businesses focus on their whole business ecosystem, creating and optimizing value for all of their stakeholders, understanding that strong and engaged stakeholders lead to a healthy, sustainable, resilient business.
They recognize that, without employees, customers, suppliers, funders, supportive communities and a life-sustaining ecosystem, there is no business. Conscious Business is a win-win-win proposition, which includes a healthy return to shareholders.
Robert Greenleaf, author of Servant Leadership observed that “Good leaders must first become good servants.”
Conscious Leaders focus on “we”, rather than “me.” They inspire, foster transformation and bring out the best in those around them.
They understand that their role is to serve the purpose of the organization, to support the people within the organization and to create value for the all of the organization’s stakeholders. They recognize the integral role of culture and purposefully cultivate a Conscious Culture of trust and care.
“Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Famed management guru Peter Drucker didn’t mince words, and knew how to identify and articulate the keys to success in business.
Culture is the embodied values, principles and practices underlying the social fabric of a business, which permeate its actions and connects the stakeholders to each other and to the company’s purpose, people and processes.
A Conscious Culture fosters love and care and builds trust between a company’s team members and its other stakeholders. Conscious Culture is an energizing and unifying force, that truly brings a Conscious Business to life.