Let’s face it. Capitalism has a bit of a black eye. In recent years system that grew world-class economies has allowed the greedy and immoral actions of a powerful few to drastically shrink those same economies. In the midst of these scandals stands John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, who argues that there is an inherent good in capitalism, if we approach is with a higher consciousness. That’s the thesis he and co-author Raj Sisodia explore in their new book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.
Conscious Capitalism reads as a half-memoir, half-management text. It tells the story of John Mackay’s own efforts as a determined capitalist equally determined to do good. At the same time, it builds a blueprint for doing business grounded in ethics. Mackey and Sisodia advocate that conscious capitalism requires businesses to be built upon for core tenets:
- Higher Purpose: Why does the business exist and why does it need to exist?
- Stakeholder Integration: The best way to build shareholder value is to build stakeholder value.
- Conscious Leadership: leaders who look beyond zero-sum and find a way to serve all interests.
- Conscious Culture: how much is the higher purpose ingrained in the culture of the organization?
Mackey and Sisodia make their case through Mackey’s own experience, as well as case studies from Southwest, Costco, Patagonia, UPS and dozens of other firms focused on stakeholder value. While the book rarely presents empirical evidence, the ideas advocated for are supported by a growing body of research. Overall, Conscious Capitalism paints a bright future for business and capitalism as it evolves from its wounded state into its truest form – one that serves all of us.