On the Journey to Conscious Business, We’re Only Halfway There

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Editor’s Note: In 2015, the Conscious Business Alliance created a Conscious Business Declaration that calls for a radical shift in perspective for business globally. To inspire this global movement a new publication, Conscious Business Magazine, by Light on Light, just launched. Visit www.lightonlight.us.

We are only halfway to the finish line if we are serious about creating a truly conscious way of doing business in the world. Let’s review our progress and then review the “gap” between where we are now and where we want to be.

In 2007, the first B Corporations were certified. “B” stands for benefit, which represents business as a force for good, with a focus on the 3 Ps: people, planet and profit. Online tools have been created to assess progress in each of those areas and the process is rigorous and systemic. Unfortunately, there is no focus on consciousness, so an organization like Etsy, once the largest B Corp, can quickly revert back to pure capitalism and wash years of effort and progress down the drain.

B Corps can be considered first wave conscious business.

The concept of “Conscious Capitalism” was popularized by Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey and Bentley University professor Raj Sisodia in a book by that name published in early 2014. The four guiding principles of “Conscious Capitalism” are: higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture. This initiative points business in a positive direction and the term “consciousness” is spotlighted, but it is not yet systemic. Conscious leadership and conscious culture do not define a process for creating a truly conscious organization.

Conscious Capitalism can be considered second wave conscious business.

The Conscious Business Declaration was created in 2015 in a joint effort by Humanity’s Team based out of the United States, The Club of Budapest based out of Europe, The Goi Peace Foundation based out of Japan, and The Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of Public Benefit based out of Case Western Reserve University in the United States. These organizations call themselves the Conscious Business Alliance, and the Declaration calls for a radical shift in perspective for business globally — one that is already shared by leading spiritual traditions and validated by modern science.

It is expressed in the first principle of the Declaration: “We Are One with humanity and all of life. Business and all institutions of the human community are integral parts of a single reality — interrelated, interconnected and interdependent.”

The Conscious Business Declaration and the Conscious Business Change Agent program, patterned after the Declaration, create a systemic process for any organization globally to become transformed, to become conscious.

We can call this approach third wave conscious business.

A truly conscious business heals what the integral perspective refers to as “flatland,” where the business focus is exclusively on the exterior/outer world. In flatland, the interior quadrants are reduced to the exterior quadrants. This is very dysfunctional.

We can see this when we observe business globally. Interior values are left at the door so business decisions are skewed heavily toward financial gain at the expense of health and well-being. When interior and exterior quadrants are given equal, healthy focus, we bring elevated consciousness to business and we create flourishing.

Conscious business that recognizes our Oneness, our deeply interconnected world, is laser-focused on nurturing products and services. It does this by creating and maintaining a culture focused on inner practices that adjust our being state to one of compassion and service, what our deeper values call us to.

Flourishing Enterprise: The New Spirit of Business, by Chris Laszlo and Judy Sorum Brown, describes flourishing individuals this way: “Individuals who are full of the vitality for whom the ‘spirit within’ is awakened, who are deeply in touch with their own purpose, and who feel connected to others, to community and to all life on Earth. For such individuals, being becomes increasingly more important than having, and caring becomes an intrinsic quality of their way of being.”

The book describes flourishing business this way: “Organizations generate sustainable value by creating value synergistically for shareholders and stakeholders. This involves engaged teams and high-performance groups operating in a culture of effectiveness and living the personal values of their members. By creating value for society and nature, they find ways to create even more value for their customers and investors.”

Now, let’s come back to the “gap” between where we are now and where we want to be.

Progressive business practices are coming into vogue. People, planet and profit are a key focus, and more and more business leaders feel stakeholders, not just stockholders, deserve attention.

The word “consciousness” is getting attention, but not in a meaningful way. Some feel it is “new age” without any real meaning or purpose for business, and others are using it to give cover to stages of development, specifically around values. The larger questions about the place of consciousness in business, specifically referencing evolutionary biology, quantum physics and spirituality, are getting little, if any, attention.

Our collective focus is almost exclusively on the exterior world at the expense of the interior world. Those who advocate for focusing on our deeper connection and attention to interior states in business are often left out of important conversations or are being deliberately marginalized.

The Newtonian view that we can separate the mechanical or visible world and the unseen world, and the Darwinian view, advocating for “survival of the fittest,” are alive and well in business doctrine.

Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrodinger’s research in 1933 states conclusively that “quantum physics thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe,” but this is nowhere in serious conscious business discourse. Likewise, current business doctrine ignores David Sloan Wilson’s research and Lynne McTaggart’s research stating that cooperation, not competition, is our basic human nature.

If we are going to create truly conscious business that is not reversible to the impulse to just make money, we must advocate for third wave conscious business.

Truly conscious business is focused on Oneness, connection and interior states reflecting our deeply held values. Elevated consciousness is the fruit of our interior world where we create business practices supporting being states of compassion and service. Most people are familiar with these practices through activity in nature, faith traditions, yoga and spiritual practice.

In earlier times, commerce used to reflect these same values. Third wave conscious business says it is time we return to these values and practices. It is time to close the gap between where we are now and where we want to be.

This was the focus of the 2019 Conscious Business World Summit (www.consciousbusinesssummit.org) hosted by Humanity’s Team, The Evolutionary Leaders, and Unity Earth, and leaders from around the world gathered to view and support third wave conscious business. If you resonate with our work, please review and sign the Conscious Business Declaration online at www.consciousbusinessdeclaration.org.

Life on our planet depends on reversing and healing our existential crisis, and business must play a role in this, and that is precisely what the Conscious Business Declaration aims to do.

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