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Growing a Culture of Generosity During the Holidays Using Conscious Capitalism!

Posted by Cristina Filippo on 12/17/2014


Last week I was in LA working with USC Marshall School of Business facilitating a workshop within their Leadership Development Program. While there I went to coffee with two friends who are consultants in the LA area. They introduced me to a “new” movement called Conscious Capitalism.

Conscious Capitalism
The term Conscious Capitalism refers to businesses that serve the interests of all major stakeholders – customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers and the environment. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and one of the leaders of the movement realized this concept on Memorial Day 1981 when his fledgling Whole Foods Market was basically wiped out by a flood. Unexpectedly, dozens of customers and neighbors showed up to help; employees worked for free, not knowing if the store would survive; suppliers resupplied on credit; investors stepped up, too, and the Whole Foods Market’s bank loaned it money to restock; the store reopened in 28 days.  This is where he realized the inherent good we find in humankind.

Conscious Capitalism is Defined by Four Characteristics
• First is a higher purpose. There needs to be some other reason why you exist, not just to make money.
• Second is aligning all the stakeholders around that sense of higher purpose and recognizing that their interests are all connected to each other, and therefore there’s no exploitation of one for the benefit of another.
• The third element is conscious leadership, which is driven by purpose and by service to people, and not by power or by personal enrichment.
• And the fourth is a conscious culture, which really embodies all of these elements: trust, caring, compassion, and authenticity.

Some of the Fortune 500 companies that you will recognize and who are a part of the Conscious Capitalism Movement include:
                     Whole Foods                 Costco
                     Panera Bread                Trader Joes
                     Google                         Patagonia
                     The Container Store      Nordstrom
                     Jamba Juice                  Starbucks
                     Southwest Airlines         Lululemon Athletica

Conscious Capitalism at Work During the Holidays:
So how can you implement some tenants of Conscious Capitalism in your own workplace? One of the quickest and simplest ways is by impacting your work culture in a positive way over the holiday season. While the holidays are a time for celebration, they can also be busy, overwhelming and stressful. A great workplace isn't just about throwing a party or handing out bonuses, it's also about checking in with employees, listening for common concerns, and lending support wherever possible.

Here are just a few ideas to inspire you and spread holiday cheer in your organization well into the New Year:

• Provide Free Food. Give away groceries or home-cooked meals to employees who work the holidays and don’t have time to shop or cook

• No Last Minute Surprises. Don't release any major product/services updates or unveil any new projects until after the holidays. It will stress out your employees and will be lost on your customers anyway during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

• Lend Families a Hand. Companies can provide parents with much-needed free time to shop for food and gifts and wrap presents, as well as include the children in the festivities.

• Help Connect Others. Cisco schedules 30 minute sessions for employees to use their video-conferencing technology to call family and friends that live too far away to visit in person.

• Offer Flexible Hours. Make sure to provide ample time off for employees to be able to spend time with their families and re-energize for the New Year.

• Pamper Your Employees. Hire a massage therapist or yoga specialist to come into the office. The need to spend a few minutes relaxing is especially important during the holiday when stress levels are especially high.

• Sponsor a Volunteer Day. Many companies are empowering employees who wish to give back to the community to organize their own charitable efforts - and cultivate pride and camaraderie in the process!

• Hold Fun "Kid-Centered" Events. Chesapeake Energy Corporation creates Santa’s Workshop every December- kids are treated to snacks, games, and even a visit from Santa himself.

In summary, we are all given much in our lives and, as leaders, it is our responsibility to give back to our employees, our customers, our community and society as a whole. In the coming months we will probably be writing more about the concept of Conscious Capitalism. It really does embody much of what we believe to be true in creating strong work cultures which positively impact the community while continuing to effect the bottom line results.

Take a look at these great videos highlighting some of the major tenants of this movement and the companies who embrace this concept. Enjoy!

2011 CEO Summit Highlights Video
Lululemon Culture and Profits
The Container Store’s Employee Focused Culture
Chipotle’s Quest for Wholesome Sustainable Food
Whole Food’s John Mackey: Business with a Higher Purpose

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