Conscious Capitalism Here and Beyond

I jumped at the chance to attend the launch of Portland’s Conscious Capitalism chapter this week at the Skype Live Studio. In a progressive city that loves local business, you may be thinking, “Why did it take so long?” Well, the catalyst has arrived! Amy Powell, recently returned to the States from Australia where she founded the movement’s very first chapter. Thanks Amy and a small team of founders, we now have the infrastructure to advance the vision and common principles of Conscious Capitalism on the ground in our town. I look forward to more people describing local businesses as good, ethical, noble, and heroic. YES, and....

In Portland I see more than business making positive impact on the world. I see the potential for Conscious Capitalism spillover that infuses benefits of consciousness through local government and our social sector. Imagine leveraging awareness of interdependencies to harvest synergy throughout all sectors of our economy.

The principles of Conscious Business aren’t necessarily new in Portland. Millennials powering the silicon forest have long been comparing consciousness of company cultures to those of the silicon valley employers they left behind. Many employers know that meaning and purpose are what motivate us and function as the primary fuel for profitability. Especially in local government, Portland elevates participation and hosts exemplars of stakeholder orientation like the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Public Involvement Advisory Council. We also have leaders who serve their organization's purpose, support their people, and create value for the all of the organization’s stakeholders.

Two of our own hometown heros, Vigor CEO Frank Foti and Renee Spears, Founder of Rose City Mortgage, shared their version of potent conscious sauce. Frank and his leadership team demonstrated Vigor’s values of Love and Truth. Ten professionals sat on stage in a heart circle. Vigor’s managers shared their emotional reality and connected it to personal priorities and company progress. Renee unpacked what it looks like to help employees live their best lives--including an audience shocker--unlimited vacation.

If Conscious Capitalism Portland isn’t sharing secret business knowledge or helping the uninitiated drink their first cup of kool-aid, what will the chapter do to generate gravity? Two key intentions came through loud and clear in the opening remarks.

First and foremost, this is not the equivalent of greenwashing for talent development. Conscious Capitalism is a business strategy that emerges from the premise that we are all connected. By seeking first to benefit human beings and the environment, the organization positions itself to thrive. This is not only the antidote for low employee engagement, but the means of maximizing profits. The longer a company pursues its commitment to conscious business, the greater the performance edge on the S&P 500 over less conscious companies.  

Second, this movement knows a few things and we’re clearly learning as we go. Those on the leading edge need each other’s creativity, inspiration, proof points, along with reinvigoration in times when innovation fails. If consciousness is the new performance advantage, there will always be a horizon. The people in this community will be the ones chasing the sun. And, however many we are, we’ll be doing it together, knowing that WE have more fun and influence than lone rangers.  

To these, I add my own aspirational intention: Conscious Capitalism spillover. May the movement successfully amplify conversations and diffuse practices so that the principles of purpose, culture, stakeholder orientation, and leadership become conscious in all Portland workplaces.