This got me thinking that while it is undeniable that non-profit organizations deliver immeasurable benefits to society, operating as
a for-profit (aka capitalistic) business may be a more efficient pathway for many who wish to do good. This way of operating is called “conscious capitalism,” the Conscious Capitalist Credo states “…free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.”
While all sustainable businesses must make money to survive,
for many corporate leaders this is not the only or even the most important reason that their business exists. These conscious businesses have achieved success by focusing on their purpose beyond profit. By extending purpose into their corporate culture, these conscious brands inspire, engage and energize all of their key stakeholders. They find that employees, customers and even vendors trust, prefer and remain loyal to companies that have an inspiring purpose.
Integrating profit and purpose is more of a journey than a destination. More than anything your purpose must be authentic – it is not simply a tagline or some marketing copy. The path should start by having conversations with your employees, customers, and partners on what they feel and how you can connect the profit and purpose. Once you have identified a strong sense of purpose, explore where you can embed it into how you make everyday decisions. Also establish metrics to measure your progress towards fulfilling that purpose. Once you are farther along the journey, set plans to help others be more purposeful and unleash a multiplier effect across every part of your company.
Conscious capitalist organizations will find that purpose will organically become the compass against which you’re making decisions. Purpose will drive the highest-level strategy meetings, it affects hiring practices, suppliers you work with, how you develop new products and of course, marketing.
Unlike most businesses (your competition?) that only exist to maximize return on investment for shareholders, a purpose driven business focuses on their entire business ecosystem. They work to create and optimize value for all of their stakeholders, as they understand that strong and engaged stakeholders lead to a healthy, sustainable, resilient business.
The purpose driven company recognizes that, without committed and loyal community of employees, customers, suppliers, funders and a life-sustaining ecosystem, they don’t have a business. Conscious capitalism is a win-win proposition, delivering a positive impact on society and also a healthy return to shareholders.