On August 7 in San Francisco, I'll be co-facilitating a discussion about Conscious Capitalism®
. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, is the champion of this project, and for the past few months, groups in San Francisco, Austin, and New York have been actively discussing the concepts behind it, sponsored by FLOW: Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit for Good
Capitalism, the process whereby capital is mobilized to produce goods and services for people, can be practiced either consciously or unconsciously. The proponents of Conscious Capitalism believe that capital should be mobilized on behalf of making the world a better place, and work to support those who aspire to do so.
According to Mackey, "Businesses and corporations are seen as greedy, selfish, and evil... Business needs to become holistic and integral with deeper, more comprehensive purposes... If business owners/entrepreneurs begin to... manage their business more consciously for the well-being of all their major stakeholders while fulfilling their highest business purpose, then I believe that we would begin to see the hostility towards capitalism and business disappear."
In Mackey's white paper on Conscious Capitalism
, he points out that the purpose of business is not just to maximize profits for the investors, as the economists would tell us. The entrepreneurs who found a business determine its purpose, not investors or lawyers or politicians. In Mackey's experience -- and mine -- maximizing profits is not the primary reason any entrepreneur builds a business. In fact, many of us start businesses with the express purpose of improving the world we live in. It is not only possible, but more common than you might think, to operate a business that makes the world better while earning a reasonable profit for its owners.
The key to being a fully conscious entrepreneur, according to Mackey, is to honor all the stakeholders in a business equally: owners, investors, employees, customers, suppliers, the community, and the environment. It might seem that the impact of such a holistic approach would be to depress profits, but in fact, this isn't necessarily true. Mackey cites a fascinating study of 30 publicly-traded companies managed according to this conscious, holistic paradigm. Over a period of ten years, these companies outperformed the S&P 500 by a ratio of nine to one.
The San Francisco Conscious Capitalism group
this month will be discussing the topic "The Conscious Capitalism Business Plan: What is it? What goes into it? How is it different?" If you join us, expect a lively small group discussion, with plenty of time for your own contributions and questions.
Can capitalism become conscious? Here's what Mackey says: "...businesses have endless opportunities to attempt to do good in the world... if done consciously, on an ongoing basis by individuals and corporations around the world, would help push humanity into an era of accelerated progress that would be unprecedented in world history. That is what...Conscious Capitalism really means."
Labels: social action, social entrepreneurs