Conscious Capitalism, conscious entrepreneurs, conscious leadership, conscious culture… is it the new marketing mantra, a swag term, or is it sustainable? After all, most businesses are out there to make money. Would add 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 pursuing personal goals. Whereas the word conscious pertains to being aware of oneself, one's intentions and the impact on the surroundings, contributing towards the greater good, taking responsibility for actions etc.
They seem to be the antithesis of each other since our memory is inundated with examples of companies that have shown a complete lack of consciousness and blindly followed the pursuit of profit-making at the cost of society, the underprivileged, and even their employees. Examples include well-known companies like Pfizer, which has been fined multiple times for environmental violations, Wal-Mart for the treatment of its workers, and 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 scepticism -“let us make some profit first, then we will think of some CSR or philanthropic initiative.” Social cause is often seen as negative equity!
Here’s the big question…
A business or enterprise's purpose 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 induce 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, and 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 instead work for a company that helps you contribute to society during the ordinary course of work?
The answer is as evident as day & night. Being conscious, responsible, caring and giving helps build, sustain and maintain a recurring cycle of motivation to achieve and ultimately benefits all stakeholders!
What is a Conscious Enterprise?
Consciousness, in the 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 a higher purpose, not short-sighted by merely generating profits, but to create value for all stakeholders, it engenders a passion for accomplishing, 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 practising the same as day-to-day exercise at all levels.
Building a Conscious Enterprise…
Conscious businesses are galvanized by the higher purposes they serve, marshalled by leaders who model and inspire conscious behaviour, 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 leaders driven by the company’s purpose; their zeal and commitment enthuse the people around them with the same energy. Conscious Enterprises have an authentic, trusting, and caring culture that enhances personal growth and professional fulfilment. Their clients experience a more robust connection towards them, as the larger purpose far supersedes the dollar value of the service or product.
Creating a win-win.
Conscious Enterprises are the actual value creators. They envision the growth of humanity and strive for continuous improvement. Conscious Capitalism is not an oxymoron but a mutually beneficial phenomenon. Doing a business that fulfils a need that aligns with 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 the development of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, and Personal Development and regularly writes on the topics.
STRIVE HIGH helps organizations develop Conscious Leaders who can promote the development of conscious culture & can develop Conscious High, Performing Teams.
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