When considering what it takes to make a conscious business, you might define the term by the attributes that characterize such a business. If you did, you’d be missing the mark.
The concept of consciousness (as in awareness) must not be lost in the attempt to concretize what can seem like a vague idea. It is all too easy to merely replace one set of externally defined measures of “success” with a newer, shinier set.
Yet, the very concept behind conscious business is that we stop pretending in an attempt to live up to externally defined measures of “good enough.”
What is Required of a Conscious Business?
Being a conscious business requires that we stop pretending that who we are as we work is somehow different than who we are as people. We stop pretending that business relationships have nothing to do with our character, values, compassion or human vulnerability. We stop pretending that we are not ourselves shaped by the systems we spend our time interacting within, regardless of whether we dismiss it as, “just business.”
Instead, conscious business challenges us to look, think, and feel deeply, then answer honestly when we ask ourselves the question, “Is the way I’m running my business creating me as the person I wish to be, and contributing toward the world in which I wish to live?”
When we make this consideration part of all key business decisions, we find that some consistent patterns tend to emerge. Among these:
- Concern for the health of the planet
- A desire to be more conservative in resource usage
- Offering employee wellness programs
- Selection of Fair Trade sources wherever available
- Commitment to building up local communities, particularly in regard to the disenfranchised
- Preference for renewable energy sources
- Generous compensation packages
- and so on
The fact that there is so much consistency among the decisions made when one considers the overall impact of their business on themselves and their legacy, often leads people to confuse the product with the process. It is the process of decision making that makes the business conscious, not the characteristics of the decisions made.
A company might have recycling programs, it’s own charitable foundation, employee wellness programs, etc. and yet be an utterly toxic work environment based on the personalities and insensitivity of the management. If there is one thing that truly trickles down in our society, it is the effect of the temperament and character of whoever wields the most influence within any organization. Is that a conscious business?
If you focus solely on the attributes often ascribed to socially responsible businesses, then perhaps. But if you define conscious business by the level of awareness from which the business is being run, then clearly not.
So my challenge to you is this… how conscious do you dare to be in the running of your business? Are you willing to be vulnerable and take emotional risks, as you build a company that is concerned with people, profits, planet, and presence?