Businesses across the world have been profit oriented. The increase in ethical awareness and respect for life among organizations, consumers and stakeholders has led to the rise of concepts such as triple bottom line -— profits, people, and planet (economic, social, and environmental) in the past two decades. It is all about green business, soulful workplace, worker empowerment, ethical investment practices and more.
What is a Conscious Organisation?
The conscious organisation takes responsibility for the impact its decisions have on the business itself, its employees, its suppliers, vendors, consumers, other stakeholders and the society, environment and the economy in general. The aim of the conscious business is to bring ‘happiness’ to all the stakeholders as it maximizes profit.
A conscious organisation is much more than a green organization. Like a green organization it might or might be having a green building, a green workplace, and producing eco-friendly products. It is also conscious about the environment its products are produced in, its employees’ welfare, welfare of its women and minority employees and their adequate representation in the workforce. It is an inclusive organization.
Conscious Business uses resources in a manner that ethically combines respect for life with tangible business strategies and bottom-line results.
Steps to becoming a Conscious Business
Becoming a conscious business requires courage and an open mind. It means questioning existing practices to seek ‘something better’; The process can be initiated by introducing changes in the workplace, fostering an adaptive and resilient community that values intelligence, creativity, and integrity in every member. Once this is done, the first step to becoming a conscious business has begun.
A conscious business requires --
Conscious organizational culture – A conscious organizational culture is the starting point of becoming a conscious business and this requires commitment from the company’s leadership. The leader must accept unconditional responsibility for his actions and that of the business. He should coordinate his actions with accountability and should be keen to “succeed beyond success”. He is also humble, has integrity, a sense of humour and empathises with those less fortunate than him. He leads by example and encourages his employees and managers to follow his lead. He works towards fostering a culture that is positive, encourages debate and discussions on how to become ‘better’ more committed and more conscious. He encourages his employees to practice green commuting, save water and electricity, use less paper and other non-preplenishable resources.
The workplace offers child-care facility for women, flexi-working hours for young mothers; has forums to address issues affecting minority workers, women, single parents; gives opportunities to minority community to become vendors, dealers and suppliers to the organization.
Conscious work practices – The organisation introduces environmentally sustainable work practices such as
- Using local suppliers who can deliver (to cut down on carbon footprint).
- Using eco-friendly replenishable resources.
- His makes sure he sources ethically produced raw material – that has not resulted in reducing forest cover, harmed the environment, used child labour or exploited workers in developing and developed countries.
- He uses organically produced raw material whenever possible.
- If he outsources manufacturing, he ensures that the labour conditions are fair and healthy, that child labour is not used and that workers are paid minimum wages and work in hygienic conditions.
- He re-uses and recycles as much as possible.
- Avoids doing un-necessary work.
- promotes minimal vehicle use.
- Keeps it local – jobs, sub-contractors, suppliers.
- Does not promote unhealthy lifestyle among children and adults.
Is Committed to Social Justice
- Tries to strike a balance between profit and social good.
- Makes sure no one – worker, subcontractor etc is exploited for profit.
- Tries to use ethical and conscious organisation for getting support services such as banking, cleaning, maintainance etc.
- Guarantees quality and honest communication with customers.
- Shares his profits with his stakeholders – fair price for consumers and suppliers, encourages worker participation by aiming to set up a workers cooperative. The latter would ensure joint decision-making and joint funds sharing among other things.
Looks for Spiritual Fulfilment
- Work practices aligned with beliefs.
- Doing the work with love, care and attention to detail.
- Working efficiently without rushing or stress – avoiding negative energy.
- Honesty, trust and transparency in all actions.
- Work as part of deeper life-purpose.
- Working with clients to transform space into nurturing home.
Views on Conscious Business
Consciousness is the path to organizational greatness. “Conscious business”, explains Fred Kofman – the author of the book by the same name, “ means finding your passion and expressing your essential values through your work. A conscious business seeks to promote the intelligent pursuit of a happiness in all its stakeholders. It produces sustainable, exceptional performance through the solidarity of its community and the dignity of each member.” According to him a conscious business fosters personal fulfillment in the individuals, mutual respect in the community, and success in the organization. It is the definitive resource for achieving what really matters in the workplace and beyond.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Good Business, writes, “fundamentally, business exists to enhance human well-being.”
Writer John Renesch observes, “commerce holds the key to bringing about a global shift of human consciousness.” Renesch identifies three aspects of conscious business: Environmental sustainability, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment. He also describes conscious business as having a sacred but non-religious context, recognizing the interconnectedness of all things.
Examples of Conscious Business
Anita Roddick, who founded “The Body Shop” in 1976 is cited as an example of conscious Business by many. Several companies that have adopted eithical work practices and others who have taken many inititives to become a green business are being referred to as a conscious company.
These companies are on the way to becoming a 'conscious business'. However, there are so many aspects -- internal as well as external and the prameters are still evolving, that it is difficult to classify a business as a conscious business. Moreover, there are so many intangibles involved that it would be difficult to give a certification for the same.
- The Art of Conscious Business
- Conscious Business
- Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
- Kofman, Fred. Conscious Business. Colorado, USA: Sounds True Publishing, 2006.
- BizLightenment A Conscious Business Directory