Author: Bárbara Gras, director of Projects at Quiero and coordinator of Sustainable Brands® Madrid 2018
“The business of business is people, yesterday, today and forever”. This phrase by Raj Sisodia, co-founder of Conscious Capitalism Inc., summed up the first Conference on Conscious Capitalism in Europe (CCEC2018), which was held at IESE Barcelona, on July 9th, and in which more than 370 attendees from 25 countries participated.
The objective of the first Conference on Conscious Capitalism held in Europe was to improve the world through sharing the experience of companies and conscious businesses. Since 2010 conferences have been held in the United States and this time they have come across the pond to promote dialogue on our continent.
Conscious Capitalism is based on four basic pillars: A Higher Purpose: Companies must exist for reasons that go beyond just obtaining profits. An Orientation Incorporating all the Agents Involved: The conscious companies must commit themselves and care for each of those who are involved in their activity. A Conscious Culture: The vision of the conscious company must be based on trust, responsibility, transparency, integrity, loyalty, equality, equity, personal growth, love and attention. And a Conscious Leadership, which has a double mission: To manage the company while looking for synergies and creative solutions that keep the business in its goal of being / contributing to a common good.
Sebastian Ross and 26 other people promoted this movement in Spain in 2015, creating the Conscious Capitalism Foundation, now chaired by Andrea Ambrosini, a businessman who helps companies generate a greater impact on society, and which gives us some more key insights:
–What is conscious capitalism?
-It is a movement that supports companies in their transformation towards becoming organizations that are more aware and oriented towards people and all the agents involved that relate to companies, in order to create a more humane, just and aware society.
– Are there conscious companies?
– Without doubt, there are many companies with conscience, although we wish there were more. And they are aware because they promote transformative initiatives or because their founders and managers are.
–Can capitalismn be conscious?
We start from the basis that capitalism has been the greatest generator of wealth as a system, but the abuse of it, or unconscious capitalism, has produced great injustices and huge social gaps. The main one, inequality. With the crisis of 2008, a large part of the middle class has been destroyed, in addition to the fact that those who have suffered the most have been the ones with the least resources and that is not good for anyone. The interesting thing is that we begin to see glimpses that its not just a matter of growing for the sake of growing because growth is not infinite, both economically and in terms of resources and raw materials. Therefore, Conscious Capitalism aims to change the economic model in which values and human beings are the basis of the activity of any company.
Luckily we are not the only movement that wants to change savage capitalism, there are others like the Economy of the Common Good or Doing Good Doing Well, which is hopeful. In addition, the CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, the largest fund manager in the world, recalled in his annual letter of 2018 to the companies in which they invest, that it is not enough just to be profitable, because society demands that companies have a social purpose and improve society in some way.
– How can this change be generated?
We are sure that when Steve Jobs founded Apple, he did not think about the money he was going to earn, but rather about creating the best computer. This is what we call purpose. The key is that each company puts the focus on doing things well and with awareness to offer products that improve our lives. I believe that a change is taking place because more and more people decide to work in companies with purpose, that help to solve the problems of humanity. And this is accelerating with the ‘millennials’.
–How do you mix profitability and conscious capitalism?
It is proven that a conscious company is much more profitable, because employees enjoy working and are more productive. The profitability is not at odds with the conscious companies but it is exactly the other way around, when one does not pursue profits as a main theme, these are increased by having done things well.