You don't have to sell your soulBy Conscious Capitalism Australia | Apr 18, 12 02:55 PM
Those of us who’ve been in the workplace for a while have an uneasy sense that many businesses just don’t get it.
They talk the good talk about staff engagement, customer service, corporate and social responsibility as well as diversity. But when it comes to walking that talk, too often their real focus is only on the next quarter’s bottom line. They’ll do whatever it takes to get there, sometimes damaging customer relationships and employee engagement in the process. As customers, employees and leaders, we feel frustrated and imagine there must be a better way.
And guess what. We’re right! In Raj Sisodia’s book Firms of Endearment (Wharton Publishing, 2007) another model of business management is unveiled, in which businesses operate in a more human way; with heart, with genuine care for customers and employees and with the realisation that they are part of a larger society.
The book has spawned a global movement called Conscious Capitalism - a movement with leadership and inspiration from some of the world’s most successful companies such as Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods Market, Patagonia, Costco, Zappos and Google. The premise of Conscious Capitalism is that companies can operate from a purpose greater than just delivering profits to shareholders. As Dr Sisodia says in his book:
These companies are run in such a way that their stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, society and many investors – develop an emotional connection with them, an affectionate regard not unlike the way many people feel about their favourite sports teams. These ‘firms of endearment’ seek to maximise their value to society as a whole, not just to their shareholders. They are the ultimate value creators: They create emotional value, experiential value, social value, and of course financial value. People enjoy working with or for the company, buying from it, investing in it, and having it as a neighbour.
They may be start-up companies who want to make a better world, or traditional businesses who want to re-think what they stand for. There are many examples:
- A hotel start-up that went from one small motel in a seedy part of San Francisco to a high-end national chain by applying Maslow’s pyramid of human needs to customers and employees.
- A cash-strapped retailer of healthy food who woke up to find their store destroyed by floods, only to have their customers turn up to help them rebuild the store.
- A start-up airline which put ‘luv’ for employees and customers at the centre of their strategy (“we just kill them with kindness, caring and attention”) and went on to become the most profitable airline in the world.
- A declining South African bank that re-invented itself by becoming people-centred and values-centred, in the process moving from the bank with the lowest shareholder returns to the highest in the nation.
If these companies can do this, then who knows what else is possible? There are hundreds more stories to tell of businesses that are setting out on their unique journey to make the world a better place, and finding extraordinary financial success as well. Here in Australia, some of our own home-grown companies - such as Intrepid Travel, Atlassian, and Zambrero - are getting global recognition and well-deserved customer loyalty for taking the high road with their customers, their people, and their relationships with the community and other stakeholders.
The movement has started, and we can help. As leaders, employees, and shareholders, we can hold our businesses to a higher standard than maximising short-term profit. As consumers, we can seek out and support these visionaries by using the products and services of companies that are genuinely doing something to make the world a better place. We can refuse to sell our souls, and lift the consciousness of our corporate world.
This article was provided by Conscious Capitalism Australia, a ‘profit for purpose’ organisation that has been created to inspire, connect and support the conscious business community in Australia. Conscious Capitalism Australia will be holding their first Breakfast Event on Tuesday 1st May, featuring international guest speaker Raj Sisodia – co-founder of the global Conscious Capitalism movement and highly acclaimed author of ‘Firms of Endearment’. They're offering a special discounted ticket price of $75 for Business Chicks members, head here to book and enter the promotional code BIZCHICKS.