Companies That Do Good Do Better

There is a trend in business that fascinates me. It is a testament to the resilience of the Human Spirit and the indomitable strength of goodness in human navigation. This is the trend toward more core-values-cognizant, socially aware, conscious executive management and corporate culture. It is the stuff that evokes careful language, like the “Real Leadership” evangelism of Richard Branson, and the “Firms of Endearment” research of Professor Raj Sisodia …and “Benefit Corporation” …and “Conscious Capitalism.”

What characterizes the trend is the conscious business intention to be a force for good, rather than a force for greed. How very refreshing! Could we hold that intention while redoing the last 15 years? [Here, I am somewhat arbitrarily dating that sarcasm by the 1998 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.]

“Conscious Capitalism” is a careful term being used for business done by companies with socially conscious executives and boards. Conscious, as in socially accountable. Not unconscious, as in predatory, sociopathic, or destructively self-absorbed.

Branson, British icon, adventurer, and mega entrepreneur of the Virgin brands, says “…business can, and must, be a force for good and …this is also good for business.” Uncommon insight!

Dr. Sisodia agrees, and he has the numbers to back it up. When he compared the performance of endearing force-for-good businesses with go-for-greed businesses, he found that these do-good businesses can outperform the greed guys, ten to one.

If this trend toward doing good and performing substantially better interests you, there is a book published in 2013 that I recommend: Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (Harvard Business Review Press). It is written by Raj Sisodia and the Co-CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey. As a C-Suite executive, only read it if you are willing to set aside superficial self-justification or the need for premature congratulations.

There are many reasons why businesses that consciously do good do better. Foremost is the power of consciously seeking and implementing feedback from all stakeholder perspectives, instead of being concerned only about shareholder value. Conscious Companies, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, The Container Store, The Motley Fool, Bon Appétit Management Co., Patagonia, and Method, work every day to do their missions better practicing the stakeholder strategy.

Think about it. Does your business have a practice of asking, “How can we do this better?” — applying input from each of its stakeholder groups daily?  If so, I’d like to hear about it!

More later about Conscious Capitalism, B-Corps, and conscious leadership.