There’s a sense of change in the air. Alongside the normalisation of ‘corporate social responsibility’ as a business term, the idea of creating new enterprises on an ethical foundation is becoming more mainstream.
For Gary Douglas, author and founder of Access Consciousness, a foray into the ‘Conscious Capitalism’ movement was a natural progression.
Conscious capitalism is a concept that involves considering the impact of a business idea in the context of sustainability. Going through this process of consideration, Douglas says, enhances the way a business operates.
“[Conscious capitalism] expands all possibilities rather than limiting and destroying sustainable profits through greedy, anti-conscious business practices,” Douglas says.
According to Douglas, businesses can introduce conscious capitalism in the following three ways:
1. Forget short-term thinking
“Business leaders have been trained to focus on short-term shareholder value instead of asking “If I create this, what will the world be like in 50 years? 100 years? 500 years?” The butterfly effect is real, and every choice you make in business has an effect long into the future,” suggests Douglas.
2. Focus on sustainability
“Sustainable is not about survival. Sustainability is something which will create and generate more choice and more possibilities,” states Douglas. “It’s about asking questions to create new and different awareness around what will grow a sustainable reality, sustainable economy and sustainable world. We have to stop creating our future from the past approach of ‘using the world up’ and start introducing different choices.”
3. Value everyone
“Organise your business according to what will create more for everyone – you, your team, your suppliers, your shareholders. When you value and acknowledge every contribution, you create more for everyone, rather than more competition,” Douglas says.
Dr Tim Rayner, founder of Philosophy for Change is another proponent of conscious capitalism ideals.
His organisation helps businesses tap into the knowledge and potential of staff.
“I think that often we can go through life devoting ourselves to a single task or vocation. But I think many of us hit a wall and think ‘Oh! Well I’ve devoted 20 years to being ‘x’, but it’s gone no where, and I’m a failure’,” he told Dynamic Business.
“I believe that we need to take a step back, and explore the much broader set of capacities and potential that we possess,” Rayner said.
The philosophy Rayner champions involves empowering staff to explore their broader tacit set of capacities – it means drawing upon the full potential of people in the workplace, beyond their core role.
“Ultimately I try to encourage organisations to be more human centred in the sense that it’s very important that if you want to create a workplace where people strongly identify with the values and the mission of the place, it’s very important that you give them a sense of real personal investment in what they’re doing,” Rayner said.
Rayner says it comes down to how much an organisation values innovation and creativity within the workplace.
“If you just want your people to slip into certain roles, and perform certain tasks, then these kinds of approaches won’t have much value,” he said.
“But if you want to have staff members who can be autonomous, and think outside the ‘so-called’ box, collaboratively engage with one another, co-create radical, innovative approaches that hadn’t been explored before – if that’s the kind of workplace you want to set up, I think it’s really important to invest in cultivating the human fabric of your organisation,” Rayner said.
The payoff is hard to argue with – Rayner said the core returns for business owners are increased job satisfaction, better communication within the workplace, and more autonomy from workers.