Most people know about “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) or have heard of a business being a “good corporate citizen” by supporting non-profits or encouraging their workers to volunteer in the community.
Less known is the more recent movement called “conscious capitalism.” It’s the next step that many companies – including Quality Connections – are taking to internalize good corporate citizenship as part of day-to-day operations.
What is it? At its core, conscious capitalism is the sincere belief that business, particularly as practiced in free market capitalism, can be a force for good. It allows us to create value, it can elevate our existence and it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.
However, for a business to achieve that ideal, it needs to be tied to a higher purpose than just making money. It needs to recognize that owners and shareholders aren’t the only stakeholders that matter. It has to be conscious of the effect it has on the world.
Lots of nationally known brands incorporate conscious capitalism into their business, including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Patagonia and Whole Foods Market (the founder of which, John Mackey, coined the term).
Like many of these companies, Quality Connections demonstrates its commitment to conscious capitalism by having a triple bottom line – Profit, People and Planet – that highlights not only financial performance, but our impact on society and the natural environment.
We are proud of running a competitive office supply business (QCoffice.org), but our higher purpose is our education and workforce training programs for those with disabilities that are made possible because of those profits. Meanwhile, our recycling programs, including a free e-waste program for our customers, help us be good stewards of the Earth.
If you are wondering how your business can adopt these practices, here are the four main principles of conscious capitalism.
- Have a higher purpose: Profits are great (and necessary), but they are a tool, not a source of inspiration. The deeper purpose of a business is what truly engages people.
- Stakeholder orientation: Understand your business has an ecosystem that includes customers, employees, suppliers, investors, shareholders, communities and the environment. They are interconnected and they all are important to your business.
- Conscious leadership: It’s essential to have leadership that keeps your company’s higher purpose front and center.
- Conscious culture: All of these elements ultimately create a conscious culture that builds trust, care and cooperation and fosters accountability, transparency, integrity and fairness.
Studies show that conscious capitalism is just good business; companies that work toward these principles enjoy increased harmony between employers and employees, better customer satisfaction and loyalty, and more community engagement.
Quality Connections is a proud proponent of conscious capitalism because we believe that one of the most compelling ideas humans ever came up with – the ability to create value and trade freely with each other – can play an even greater role in creating purpose and prosperity for everyone while solving some of society’s biggest problems. FBN
By Armando Bernasconi