I penned a few posts on the work Realtime Man blog whilst in SXSW recently. I thought I'd repost here in case you missed them. This one is about conscious capitalism.
Capitalism has only been around for a couple of hundred years but business has been around since the beginning of humanity. Yet big business only has a 19% approval rating, meaning 81% of people don’t approve of big business in the USA.
And recent history has proven capitalism and business has outperformed the communist alternative. West Germany outperformed East Germany. The same for South Korea and North Korea, USA and Russia. Yet capitalism is hated. Business is hated.
So there’s an interesting paradox here. “Capitalism won the battle of the 20th century, but it has failed to capture the minds and hearts of society.”
Clearly, something needs to change to answer this paradox for the good of society.
John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods Markets, outlines 4 goals to help change the narrative and improve the perception of business and capitalism and the value they can add to society.
1) Every business has the potential to have a higher purpose beyond making money.
What is the purpose of your business, of your brand? Why do you do what you do? What role will you play in the lives of people now and in future generations? This is a question we ask regularly at the agency, as we believe this should be the core of marketing communications.
2) Business must exist not only for shareholders, but for anyone who trades with it.
Whether that be customers, employees or suppliers, business should add value to all and sundry. Beyond those directly engaged, it must also add value to local communities. It has the potential to contribute and shape society for good. And, as John says, it’s a rewarding role. A good question to ask yourself, are you delivering value to all of those people with your business?
3) We need a different kind of leader.
Traditionally, leaders have wanted to rule because they wanted to be powerful. And that power brings rewards of money, sex and fame. What we need in new companies now are different leaders. Leaders who have a higher degree of emotional intelligence. Who are more democratic with their staff and treat them as equals. Who are spiritually awake and evolve as humans. “You cannot create a conscious business if the leadership is not conscious and doesn’t evolve.”
4) We have to create cultures that are humanistic in their approach.
Cultures that are trusted by people who engage with them.
Cultures that are authentic.
Cultures that are caring and loving. (Think about business metaphors – they are rooted in war language or Darwinian in their language. “Kill or be killed. Survival of the fittest. Let’s target them…” This has happened because business has traditionally been ran by men who see love as a weakness.)
Cultures that have integrity.
Cultures where loyalty is inherent in all relationships.
Cultures that are more equal. At Whole Foods, the benefits system is the same regardless of your role. From the top to the bottom.
How many businesses that we all work for could honestly say they reflect the above? Or even agree with the above? It’s a tricky balance, but if it’s achieved then the future could be that little bit better for all of us.
“The earth’s natural resources are finite, but human creative ideas are endless.” All we need to do is use them in a way that’s beneficial to all.