Imagine the excitement of being surrounded by some of the most accomplished CEOs of our time, plus the budding future business leaders to come. That's what I felt at this year's Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit, held October 18 - 20 at the Lost Pines Resort near Austin, Texas.
200 CEOs across a range of industries were on hand--from Crossfit, to Chick-fil-A, to Interstate Battery, to Whole Foods Market. All ages, all genders, all backgrounds, having truly honest conversations about their business' purpose, where they've fallen short, and how they can become better "conscious" leaders.
There's no other experience quite like it. What's incredible is that this isn't limited to a conference a few days a year--it's the business world we're in now.
When most hear "conscious capitalism," it's seen as corporations making donations or creating programs, while using business practices that harm our world somewhere else.
What conscious capitalism means today is a new era of capitalism that operates end-to-end, everyday, to benefit others--while generating revenue and high growth itself. Specifically:
Capitalism has fueled our society
Capitalism has gotten a bad rap in more recent times. It's a shame, because it has done and continues to do so many great things for our world. Whole Foods Co-CEO and Conscious Capitalism Summit Co-Founder, John Mackey, covered this in his talk at the event:
It's the progress that has fueled us, the root of the gains society sees--lifting everyone up--not just the one percent. Since 1970, the percent of households earning greater than $100,000 per year has increased from eight percent to 25 percent today.
Capitalism can lift people out of poverty in ways that governments and nonprofits cannot.
Not all companies do what is right or benefit others, but that doesn't take away the value of capitalism. Capitalism has had--and can continue to have--great value to all.
Conscious capitalism can do the same for more
Traditional capitalism has a narrow view that maximizes interests of one stakeholder. But this limits what capitalism can achieve.
Capitalism that focuses on maximizing the benefit to multiple stakeholder--employees, community, the environment, and shareholders--has demonstrated real benefit, including the bottom line.
Employees are more engaged, and it produces better outcomes
Dr. Raj Sisodia, the Co-Founder of Conscious Capitalism, noted that in the average company, 30 percent of employees are actively engaged, 50 percent are not engaged, and 20 percent are actively disengaged. It's like rowing a boat with just three people doing the work, five pretending to, and two clobbering others with their paddles. This disconnect leads to $550 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. every year.
Many companies spend lavishly to create corporate culture to try to drive employee engagement. Consider creating conscious purpose instead. Purpose-driven organizations show higher employee engagement and thus perform a whopping 1,689 percent higher than their S&P 500 counterparts.
It's possible anywhere, anytime
This way of doing business isn't limited to startups, or companies launched with purpose at the helm.
Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell's, has taken on evolving 146-year old company mission into something new--a focus that benefits their consumers--and it's shown a return in Campbell's growth.
Hinged on the promise of "real food," - food with roots, made with quality ingredients, prepared ethically and sustainably, and made accessible for all through fair price, Morrison made major changes in Campbell's executive leadership and vision - and has seen a 20 percent increase in its stock as a result.
I knew when I started Simple Mills that I wanted to do more than just make money or drive profits. But it's never too late to do business differently, evolve your mission, or shift your company focus--Campbell's is a great example.
As Dr. Sisodia referenced at the conference, there are multiple ways to build conscious capitalism into your company--it doesn't have to be purely for saving the world.
It's about putting all the parts of your mission statement on equal footing. The return isn't just profit for you and your business--but greater benefit for all stakeholders involved.