Building on the resounding success of the first practitioner-centric conference called Catalyzing Conscious Capitalism® in Austin in November 2008, this May 2009 Bentley University gathering of thought leaders laid the intellectual and conceptual foundations of the field, and identified key research questions.
The term “conscious capitalism” reflects the fact that more people today are at higher levels of consciousness about themselves and the world around them than ever before. This is due in part to natural evolution, but also to the rapid aging of society, which has resulted in a higher proportion of people in mid-life and beyond, when consciousness is raised and higher-level needs predominate. The advent of the World Wide Web has accelerated this trend, simultaneously connecting hundreds of millions of people and placing great demands for transparency on companies.
Our definition of conscious capitalism has three key elements:
- companies have a purpose that transcends profit maximization;
- companies are managed for the benefit of all stakeholders in their ecosystem, not just shareholders; and
- companies are led by spiritually evolved, self-effacing servant leaders.
Companies that practice conscious capitalism embody the idea that profit and prosperity go hand in hand with social justice and environmental stewardship. They operate with a systems view, recognizing and benefiting from the connectedness and interdependence of all stakeholders. They tap into deeper sources of positive energy and create greater value for all stakeholders. They utilize creative business models that are both transformational and inspirational, and can help solve the world’s many social and environmental problems.
Many progressive CEOs consider business schools to be part of the problem, in that they continue to inculcate a mindset in future business leaders that is highly adversarial in nature, puts profits ahead of any other nobler purpose, and treats shareholder interests as paramount and all other stakeholders as merely means to that end. Whether this is true or not, we strongly believe that business academics must be part of the solution. They must lead the way in conducting research on how best to align private business interests with larger societal concerns. They must educate students about how they can create and run businesses that operate on a higher plane of consciousness, which can see the essential interconnectedness across stakeholders, and which exist in order to serve a higher purpose that energizes, elevates and aligns all stakeholders.
Join us at the beginning of this exciting journey, as we set out to show how business can indeed be a noble pursuit, how it can exist comfortably and profitably on the right side of society, how it can embody qualities such as caring and love without being decimated by ruthless and single-minded competitors, and how it can spread healing and joy all around without exploitation of any kind.