Conscious Capitalism, conscious entrepreneurs, conscious leadership, conscious culture… is it the new marketing mantra, a swag term, or is it actually sustainable? After all, most businesses are out there to make money. Would adding another parameter of being a ‘conscious organization’ add to the challenge for their survival or does it make business sense?
Conscious Capitalism - an oxymoron?
Capitalism by definition refers to the creation of goods and services for profit, and is therefore associated with individualism, accumulation of wealth and power, and perusing of personal goals. Whereas the word conscious pertains to being aware of oneself, ones intentions and the impact on the surroundings, contributing towards the greater good, taking responsibility of actions etc.
They seem to be the antithesis of each other since our memory is inundated with examples of the companies that have shown a complete lack of consciousness and blindly followed the pursuit of profit making at the cost of society, underprivileged, even their own employees. Examples include well known companies like Pfizer who've been fined multiple times for environmental violations, Wal-Mart for treatment of its workers, most recently Volkswagen for deliberately designing a means to circumvent emissions control to gain an unfair advantage over its competitors. No wonder, companies are seen as profit churning machines, with little consciousness.
It is therefore no surprise to hear entrepreneurs speak with skepticism -“let us make some profit first, then we will think of some CSR or philanthropic initiative.” Social cause is often seen as a negative equity!
Here’s the big question…
The purpose of a business or an enterprise essentially is to provide a solution to an existing problem, improve lives and create value for all stakeholders including customers, employees, suppliers, and investors.
The larger the purpose, the greater is the value proposition. If the purpose helps achieve more than generating personal benefits and achieve self-actualization goals, like contributing to the society, surroundings, environment, helping underprivileged etc., it provides larger meaning to the achievements of all the stakeholders, adding to the enthusiasm and passion to create larger value.
Adding an altruistic and philanthropic dimension for the purpose enhances self worth, and adds meaning to our lives. When people give, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Their brain releases endorphins, that induces feelings of well-being and produces positive feelings known as the ‘helper’s high’, which like other highs, is addictive too.
These are not merely vacant, mumbo jumbo statements. Companies like Google, Whole Foods Market, Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, The Container Store are examples of highly successful, conscious companies!
Consider a simple example, if you were to buy a burger, everything being the same, if one company donates 1 cent for every burger sold to underprivileged children and the other does not support any cause – where would you buy your burger? Again, if you are looking for a job, would you rather work for a company that helps you contribute to the society while the normal course of work or?
The answer is as obvious as day & night. Being conscious, responsible, caring and giving actually helps build, sustain and maintain a recurring cycle of motivation to achieve, and ultimately benefits all stakeholders!
What is a Conscious Enterprise?
Consciousness, in simplest sense means being cognizant of oneself, others, surroundings, society, and the ecosystem. It requires focusing on the purpose, clarifying intentions, and taking responsibility for actions. When businesses operate with higher purpose, not short sighted by merely generating profits, but to create value for all stakeholders, it engenders passion to accomplish, leading to superior performance and growth of the entire system.
Being Conscious doesn’t merely mean supporting a philanthropic cause in the vision or mission statement of the organization and donating dollars to a socially appealing cause once in a while to generate buzz in the marketing space. It entails promoting ‘conscious practices’ and practicing the same as a day-to-day exercise at all levels.
Building a Conscious Enterprise…
Conscious businesses are galvanized by higher purposes they serve, marshaled by leaders who model and inspire conscious behavior, sustained by organizational cultures that encourage conscious values and insinuate supporting beliefs, and supported by HR Practices that create alignment between advocated values and actual practices.
Conscious businesses have conscious leaders who are driven by the company’s purpose, their zeal and commitment enthuse the people around them with the same energy. Conscious Enterprises have authentic trusting and caring culture that enhances personal growth and professional fulfillment. Their clients experience a stronger connection towards them, as the larger purpose far supersedes the dollar value of the service or product.
Creating the win-win..
Conscious Enterprises are the true value creators, they envision the growth of humanity and strive for continuous improvement. Conscious Capitalism is not an oxymoron, but mutually benefiting phenomena. Doing a business that fulfills a need that aligns to a larger purpose creates a greater value proposition that generates broader interest. They generate financial, intellectual, cultural, social, emotional, spiritual and ecological capital for all their stakeholders.
Building a Conscious enterprise should not be an option, but a conscious choice, as it creates ‘win-win’ for all the stakeholders, humanity, and the world at large!
- By Preeti Dubey (Masters in Psychology, MBA)
Founder ,Director, STRIVE HIGH Strategic Training Solutions, www.strive-high.com
Preeti delivers training in development of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, and Personal Development and regularly writes on the topics.
STRIVE HIGH helps organizations develop Conscious Leaders, who can pormote development of conscious culture & can develop Conscious High Performing Teams.
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