Local business leaders are bringing the international movement and philosophy of Conscious Capitalism to Columbus.
The movement is spurred by a 2013 book of the same name penned by Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey and Raj Sisodia which put a language to the way a group of business leaders had been conducting their operations.
“It’s really a group of business people who all believe that business can be a force for good in the world and should be a force for good in the world,” says Haley Boehning, vice chair of the board and Storyforge co-founder.
Conscious Capitalism embodies four main principles.
The first, Higher Purpose, dictates that, “A business has a purpose beyond profitability and that that purpose leads to profitability,” says Boehning.
The second principle, Stakeholder Orientation, looks to create value for all involved – those impacted by the business or impacting the business.
The third tenet, Conscious Leadership, encourages businesses to cultivate, “An environment of trust, an environment of care and an environment of service for the entire business ecosystem,” Boehning explains.
The final objective, Conscious Culture, focuses on connecting stakeholders to each other and to the company’s purpose through shared values.
For Board Chair and Improving Director of Business Development Jacquie Bickel, Central Ohio is in a unique position for a chapter because, “There are so many business already operating consciously,” she says.
“What I think is so exciting for me is the opportunity for us to highlight those strengths that we have as community,” Boehning adds, “To share the stories of leaders and businesses that already live this way so that we can all deepen our understanding of this.”
Improving has already been operating under the tenets of Conscious Capitalism, but other businesses in the community like Jeni’s, IGS Energy and Cardinal Health readily demonstrate principles such as Stakeholder Orientation – focusing on a purpose beyond profitability that when fulfilled benefits the community.
Those are larger organizations, but, “It’s a message that can be applied to a two person organization or a 10,000,” Bickel says.
The Chapter is open to business of all shapes, sizes and industries, from startups to corporations.
“We’re looking for anyone in business who is interested in learning more about Conscious Capitalism and applying the principles to how they lead and the businesses that they are building and creating,” Boehning says.
Conscious Capitalism brings businesses together with events on the third Thursday of every month. Attendees can expect to hear more about the principles of the movement, stories of businesses that have been successful in the methodology, as well as audience Q&A and sharing.
Conscious Capitalism Columbus started hosting events in November. Boehning stresses they are still at the beginning of their journey. The organization is building its board and committees and reaching out into the community to bring businesses into the fold that reflect Columbus in all of its diverse characteristics.
Boehning and Bickle say the response thus far has been nothing short of incredible. Leveraging their personal networks for the first meeting, they fielded over 150 attendees.
“We know that that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the interest,” Boehning says.
Bickel has heard the realization of attendees that these ideas have been a part of their identity all along – now it’s time to set those principles and purpose.
Conscious Capitalism joins a growing trend of businesses in Columbus that are reexamining the line between purpose and profit. The lines between for-profit and non-profit businesses are starting to blur and in that intersection lies social enterprise.
“Non-profit business are thinking about profitability as a tool for them to use to achieve the outcomes and results that they want,” Boehning says. “For-profit businesses are understanding the impact that they have on the world and the potential good that they can do if they think about things consciously.”
Conscious Capitalism seeks to bring these businesses and more into the movement. Learning from each other, Columbus’ businesses can have a bigger impact.
Learn more at centralohio.consciouscapitalism.org.