It has been reported on more than one occasion that putting the words conscious and capitalism together would make an oxymoron. Yet what it really is, is announcement of the new order of what is possible, productive and profitable for businesses.
“Imagine a business that is born out of a dream about how the world could be and should be…” Steve Denning.
As Steve states, what we mean by conscious capitalism is more than just business with a purpose – it is business that is nurturing and supportive of it’s community.
In some ways it is a way of doing business rather than a ‘type’ of business or business model. According to Wikipedia it is: “The conscious business movement emerged from the theory of corporate social responsibility, pushes for “values-based” economic values where values represent social and environmental concerns at both global and local scales.”
In 2001 when RedBalloon was founded I wanted to work in a place I wanted to work in. What that meant is that I wanted to have fun at work, do good and worthwhile work and be proud of the contribution to the community. As it happens some years later I came across the term Conscious Capitalism. It had been innate to me because I had worked in some places that really were not great. In fact on many levels they were destructive for the people that worked in them and what and how they did business.
I just thought if I was going to put my life’s effort towards something I needed to do it in a way that was good for humans – and the planet. It came down to values.
Whilst it was this leadership style that started the notion of being a values driven business, it was those that joined the team that amplified it and made it real.
A leader is only a leader if others follow – and they too believe in the set of guiding principles of how we do business.
I believe that we have engendered a culture of trust and authenticity. We are genuine; we are ethical; we are good to our community – all of which contributes to our ingrained social position….and as a result RedBalloon is considered a great place to work. Under the direction of CEO Nick Baker – this has continued beyond my tenure as RedBalloon’s leader.
I was approached to be an ambassador for the Conscious Capitalism organization in Australia. And I am more than pleased to be a spokesperson for these principles. After all business success this century will be all about transparency, authenticity and contribution.
As part of my role I challenge businesses to re-think, re-evaluate and re-assess the role that corporations play in our community. After all, there is more to success in business than just fiscal performance. Triple bottom line performance is not a new concept – and it is being demanded by customers and shareholders alike. (Triple bottom line means providing positive value in the domains of people, planet, and profit) and I know that this is discussed at length as part of the Company Directors course undertaken by AICD.
Business success is equally dependent on how trusted that organisation is by its people, how democratic it is, and of course whether or not it is a good place to work. Just last week, RedBalloon was named on the WorldBlu List of Most Freedom-Centred Workplaces. Creating a workplace where people want to be and are intentional about what they do.
A big part of the RedBalloon story has been about how we lead and inspire the team – and peer to peer recognition. redii, the recognition platform is at the centre of how this has been done. redii delivers what business leaders need to create great workplaces where teams have the opportunity to be recognised every day. And having this as a foundation to any business is a critical building block to forming truly genuine social capitalism.
People are at the centre – as Ram Charan says “People first – strategy second.”
It is true. Today’s best of the best do get it. They understand the value in social capital as a direct correlation to financial capital – they know how to engage their people in an aligned manner – creating a wonderful synergy between the social and the financial.
I am a true believer in entrepreneurship; innovation; competition; risk; and of course, a free market. Business is about challenge, reward, opportunity…these are all elements of the wheel turning in our economy – they are the cogs that keep the fly wheel moving forward, and they are the backbone of our Australian spirit. I think a new day has emerged – companies are judged now on so much more than financial returns, because people need to believe in where they work and the notion of employer brand has sky rocketed – and that is a very powerful reality.
When I was asked to speak at La Trobe University tonight on The Ethics of Business Transformation I related it back to my own journey, from humble beginnings of being driven by my purpose, having shared values and wanting to be truly proud of the contribution that we make to our community.