By Vanessa Zabala
In an ever-changing turbulent world, where exciting new technology and information seems to be never ending, the world faces many economic and social problems. The slow growth of the global economy poses a challenge to the capitalistic economic system of maximizing profits and scaling without regards for its effects. Climate change is causing more extreme weather and disrupting agricultural harvests, increasing areas with water scarcity and food security that have led to violence, deteriorating human health from GMOs and antibiotics, and much more. How can the world’s socio-economic issues be resolved when there is such a grim outlook?
John Mackey, the Co-Founder of Whole Foods Market and Conscious Capitalism, believes that business is the answer, “Conscious Capitalism builds on the foundations of Capitalism – voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law”.
Economic prosperity and community improvement are not mutually exclusive and can be combined to create sustainable, long-lasting change that benefits all of the private sector’s stakeholders: Customers, Employees, Investors, Suppliers, the Community, and the Environment. “For business to reach its fullest potential in the 21st Century, we will need to create a new business paradigm that moves beyond simplistic machine/industrial models to those that embrace the complex interdependencies of multiple constituencies” (Mackey, 2007).
Embracing a world of prosperity and consciousness can be achieved, but it requires a shift in focus from pure profit maximization to sustainable development. The four principles of Conscious Capitalism provide guidance and goals that organizations can use to create a prosperous, healthy, and growing local and global environment.
Higher Purpose: Recognizing that every business has a purpose that includes but is more than making money. By focusing on its Higher Purpose, a business inspires, engages and energizes its stakeholders. Link to Purpose Resources: consciouscapitalism.org/purpose
Stakeholder Orientation: Recognizing the interdependent nature of life and the human foundations of business, a business needs to create value with and for its various stakeholders (customers, employees, vendors, investors, communities, the environment, etc.). Like the life forms in an ecosystem, healthy stakeholders lead to a healthy business system. Link to Stakeholder Resources: consciouscapitalism.org/stakeholder
Conscious Leadership: Human social organizations are created and guided by leaders – people who see a path and inspire others to travel along the path. Conscious Leaders understand and embrace the Higher Purpose of business and focus on creating value for and harmonizing the interests of the business stakeholders. They recognize the integral role of culture and purposefully cultivate Conscious Culture. Link to Leadership Resources: consciouscapitalism.org/leadership
Conscious Culture: This is the ethos – the values, principles, practices – underlying the social fabric of a business, which permeates the atmosphere of a business and connects the stakeholders to each other and to the purpose, people and processes that comprise the company. Link to Culture Resources: consciouscapitalism.org/culture
There is no one true answer on how to achieve these principles, but achieving them creates a virtuous circle of win-win relationships and results for all stakeholders in society.
“There are different ways to organize capitalism. Free-market capitalism is only one of them – and not a very good one at that. There is no one ideal model.” Ha Joon Chang, Economist and Professor at the University of Cambridge.
This blog series is meant to provide insight to the growing movement towards conscious thinking and conscious action. We will provide a deeper understanding of the conscious movement through comprehensive analysis of academic debates, business examples, government initiatives, and community involvement by showing how the four fundamental principles of Conscious Capitalism can address and improve many of the world’s problems.
If you have any comments, or are interested in engaging with the DC Conscious capitalism community, please email Vanessa Zabala at email@example.com.
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