I first became aware of the term “Conscious Capitalism” in a paper written by John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Market in 2007 titled Conscious Capitalism, Creating a New Paradigm for Business. He says; “for business to reach its fullest potential in the 21st century, we will need to create a new business paradigm that moves beyond simplistic machine/industrial models to those that embrace the complex interdependencies of multiple constituencies. This is the reality in which corporations exist today and our economic and business theories need to evolve to reflect this truth.”
He further states; “All of the other professions put an emphasis on the public good and have purposes beyond self-interest (maximizing profits), why doesn’t business?” He believes that most of the greatest companies in the world also have great purposes. They fall into four timeless categories:
1. Service to others.
2. The excitement of the discovery and the pursuit of truth.
3. Excellence and the quest for perfection.
4. The desire to really change things – to truly make the world better, to solve insoluble problems.
When he co-founded Whole Foods Market in 1978, John began with $45,000 in capital with 1st year sales of $250,000. In 2006, Whole Foods Market had sales of more than $5.6 billion with net profits of more than $200 million and a market capitalization of $8 billion. “Profits are one of the most important goals of any successful business. Although it may seem counter intuitive, the best way to maximize profits over the long-term is not to make them the primary goal of the business.”
“Business is fundamentally a community of people working together to create value for other people, their customers, employees, investors, and the greater society. Corporations must rethink why they exist. If business owners/entrepreneurs begin to view their business as an complex and evolving interdependent system and manage their business more consciously for the well-being of all their major stakeholders, while fulfilling their highest business purpose, then I believe that we would begin to see the hostility towards capitalism and business disappear.”
John makes a compelling case and makes great points in his paper, and he has the proof in the success of Whole Foods Market to back him up. He has elevated the bar, and it starts with your “Core Ideology” “what do you stand for over and above making money?” How great are the possibilities?