The Rise of Conscious Capitalism
© 2005 by Patricia Aburdene
The following is
an excerpt from our good friend Patricia’s ground-breaking new book,
Megatrends 2010, which is full of both innovative ideas and
practical examples (including The Center for Visionary Leadership):
Conscious Capitalism isn't altruism; it
relies instead on the wisdom of enlightened self-interest. Here are
seven powerful trends that are re-inventing free enterprise:
1. The Power of
times, we look within; 78 percent
Spirit. Meditation and yoga soar. Divine Presence spills into
"Spiritual" CEOs as well as senior executives from Redken and
(HP) transform their companies.
2. The Dawn of
Top companies and
free enterprise to honor stakeholders and shareholders. Will
it make the
world a better place? Yes. Will it earn more money? That's the surprising
part: Study after study shows the corporate good guys rack up great
3. Leading from the Middle.
overpaid CEO is fading
fast. Experts now
say "ordinary" managers, like HP's Barbara Waugh, forge
lasting change. How do they do it?
Values, influence, moral authority.
Spirituality in Business
is springing up
all over. Half speak of faith at
Fisher, Medtronic win "Spirit at Work" awards. Ford, Intel and
other firms sponsor employee-based
religious networks. Each month San Francisco's Chamber of Commerce
sponsors a "spiritual" brown bag lunch.
Consumers, who've fled the
mass market, are
a multi-billion-dollar "niche." Whether buying hybrid cars,
supplies or organic food, they vote with their values. So,
embody positive values will attract them.
6. The Wave of
Coming to a firm
near you: Vision
Meditation. Forgiveness Training. HeartMath. They sound touchy-feely,
conscious business pioneers are tracking results that will blow your
Responsible Investment Boom.
Today's stock portfolios are green
in more ways than one.
What is Conscious Capitalism?
capitalism is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. You might think of it as
"stakeholder capitalism," or call it the "Triple Bottom Line," but
there's even more to it than that. It is the dynamic matrix of social,
economic and spiritual trends transforming free enterprise. It is:
- Bottom-up - a broad-based,
grassroots movement pressing for greater
accountability and integrity in
espoused in hundreds of the world's leading corporations.
- an engine of superior financial performance.
Investor-driven - attracting trillions into socially responsible
a hotbed of advocacy from shareholder to environmental.
- reflecting of the changing human profile of business.
- winning growing public support in the marketplace.
- Spiritual - the real-world
manifestation of the quest for transcendent values.
When Business for
Social Responsibility (BSR), the San Francisco-based
founded in the 1990s, it counted just a few members. Today
it boasts 400
organizations, including about half of the Fortune 500.
social responsibility (CSR) as a "comprehensive set of
practices and programs" that earn financial success in ways that
values, and respect people, communities and the natural
In other words,
CSR firms are conscious
of how their
actions impact their
Sure, they worry about stockholders, but they're also concerned
about "stakeholders" like employees, customers, suppliers, communities
at home and abroad and planet Earth.
In addition to
joining outfits like BSR, corporations signal their willingness
to embrace Conscious Capitalism by endorsing standards like the
for Environmentally Responsible Companies) Principles
and through the
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
The GRI issues
uniform guidelines for corporations--as well as governments
and NGOs--that choose to report on the social, environmental and
of their operations. More than 600 organizations have
adopted the GRI
Why do corporate
blue chips rally round the banner of corporate social
Many want to do the right thing, of course, but there is a practical
well. A reputation for corporate
responsibility enhances the
company's brand, while being deemed "socially irresponsible" damages it.
The marketplace implications, not surprisingly, are sizable.
crusade for corporate accountability has already garnered
immense public support. When the
Conference Board polled 25,000
in 23 countries, a full
said they want business to "expand
beyond the traditional
emphasis on profits and contribute to broader social objectives."
Top CSR companies, of course, already do
• 3M's corporate-wide
offensive against carbon emissions is cutting greenhouse
gases at 3M facilities in 60 countries.
General Mills invested $2 million in a joint venture between
minority-owned Glory Foods and
community organization Stairstep Initiative to create an
employee-owned business and
Proctor & Gamble (P&G) technology helps people in developing countries
cheaply disinfect water in their homes. The consumer giant also
supports nine minority-owned
banks and invests in venture capital funds for minority
business. "Diversity is a matter of ethics," says P&G spokesperson
Terry Loftus-and a
"fundamental business strategy."
• Motorola's superior customer service rests on the firm's commitment to
"bionics"--a new field
where product inspiration comes from the "simplicity,
efficiency and beauty of nature."
a quarterly report
on corporate social responsibility,
lists the top 100 corporate citizens. 3M, General Mills, P&G and
Motorola all make the list. Drawing
on ratings devised by KLD Research &
Business Ethics ranks
corporate responsiveness to seven stakeholders:
shareholders, the community, women and minorities, employees, the
environment, non-U. S. stakeholders,
Spirit in Business
Spirituality in business,
having quietly blossomed for decades, is an
established trend that's about to
morph into a megatrend.
megatrend fashion, Spirit in business is popping up across many
regions, as evidenced by recent local headlines:
"Dallas-based International Organization Offers Spiritual Aid in the
Workplace" reports the Fort Worth
"Faithful Are Carving a Niche in the Workplace," reads a 2005
"Visibility of Religious Beliefs Grows in Workplace," says the
Charlotte [North Carolina] Observer
In Boston, a
secret, invitation-only ecumenical prayer breakfast for top executives
is called "First Tuesday." New York's Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
Faith@Work lecture series. In Minneapolis, 150 business leaders lunch
and hear leaders like Carlson Companies CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson speak
on topics like how the Bible guides their business decisions.
In Chicago, some
60 mostly Catholic executives, members of Business Leaders for
Excellence, Ethics and Justice
(BEE]), have met for more than a
decade to break bread and ponder the sacred and secular sides of
work. Bill Yacullo, president of
Chicago recruiting firm Lauer, Sbarbaro Associates and
cofounder of BEEJ.
says the group nourishes his spiritual life and helps him
be more honest and confident with his
appeal of Spirit in business is undeniable. Half of us
talked about faith
at work in the past 24 hours, reports a Gallup poll. New
York's High Tor
Alliance, in a study entitled "Applied Contemplative
Work and Organizational Life" for the Fetzer Institute and the
Foundation, found that 81 percent of respondents use
individual practices like prayer,
silence or meditation on the job.
"The line between business and spiritual
life is becoming increasingly
blurred," concludes the Times