What is a conscious enterprise?

What is a conscious enterprise?
by Dominique Conterno (2020)

Enterprises, from a single employee to large corporations, are the number one greatest organiser of human effort on the planet. When looking at the sheer number of hours people spent in businesses in their lifetime, it becomes obvious that we are observing the only human institution that has the scale required to tackle some of the great obstacles to long-term human thriving. The philosophical irony associated with many of those obstacles is that they were created by us doing business unconsciously. This specific angle leads us to the important question: if we have created an ill-functioning society by operating unconsciously, then can we redress errors from the past and create a new world that displays the right qualities for the well-being of all human kind.

To help us at responding to the last question, we need to look at the following aspects:
  • Purpose
  • Stakeholders
  • Culture
  • Leadership

In terms of purpose, conscious enterprises are targeting conscious and human goals that are much higher than just addressing negative impacts or simple positive adjustments.  Conscious enterprises must put their efforts on demonstrating that they are committed to at least one specific purpose beyond profit. This purpose must bring energy, meaning and life to the workplace. It is fair to say that for conscious enterprises, purpose is not a zero-sum strategy target as in no ways it requires achieving being the greatest, making more money, etc… The purpose is to bring qualities to our societies and therefore to human beings, whether it be in ecology, energy, politics, etc…

All organisations, regardless of its size, have a set of stakeholders without whom they could not function. Such stakeholders may be internal, such as employees, as well as external, such as customers, partners, communities and shareholders. These relationships must be all about a non-zero strategy, all about co-operation, for real alignments between these various parties to become a solid reality. The demand for achieving a fully co-operative environment should not be underestimated as for example meeting free or almost free carbon footprint can be quite a challenge to achieve, that only a really environmentally dedicated business can meet this kind of challenge.

The type of culture that conscious enterprises must develop and maintain goes well beyond superficial changes such as adding a pool table in a common room. Many enterprises display a huge trend towards more sustainable business practices. However, in many cases, environmental sustainability, has little to do with conscious business. Organisations can be highly sustainable, but still run in an unconscious way. A conscious business, however, will not maintain unsustainable business practices.  Instead, caring for employees, for their personal and career growth, supporting them in time of personal hardship and providing them with the right environment for them to learn, work and stay healthy, become paramount. Employees become family members and as such conscious enterprise leaders have a duty to make sure that they keep their employees happy and healthy. In doing so, conscious enterprises create self-improving teams that can grow beyond their own personal and organisational limitations. A conscious enterprise could donate employee paid time, money, or products towards various non-profit organisations. It may also create a foundation, which works with one particular cause. In all cases, conscious enterprises will become involved with social or political campaigns to protect the environment, animals, or people, even sometimes use significant amounts of their profit towards these causes. Furthermore, a conscious enterprise may work closely with suppliers in either a farming or manufacturing community in a developing country and help to develop the community economically and replenish it environmentally.

For a conscious enterprise to come into existence, it needs at least one conscious leader. Conscious leaders know that their own personal development sets a horizon for that of their organisation. To keep the enterprise positively growing, they must proactively seek out opportunities to develop their intelligence in the emotional (mindfulness), spiritual (meaning making) and systems (dealing with complexity) realms, and continually extend their horizons.

A conscious leader at this point, may ask which elements have I got in place? Am I failing if I only have one of them? Not at all, as there is no right or wrong way to creating a conscious enterprise. To create a conscious enterprise is a journey without an end. The only requirement is to work on these four aspects and improve your embodiment of them day after day. If leaders can remain committed to the process as you continually discover where there is more work to do, then your business is a conscious enterprise. If not, remember, today is a fine day to begin.

So, to recapitulate, conscious enterprises are about people who are aware of the impact each of their habits and actions has on their environment (people and planet). In reality, it is a style of living based on knowing that everything is interconnected. It also is about people, who know who they are, their strengths and weaknesses and who desire to live and work with joy, creativity and ease instead of fear, power and unconsciousness.

The Conscious Business Declaration

The Conscious Business Declaration was first drafter in 2015 by the Humanity’s Team, an NGO, engaged with the Goi Peace Foundation of Japan, the Club of Budapest, and the Fowler Centre for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University.   It served as "A New Standard for Business in the 21st Century," it took over a year to write the declaration, and it was officially made public in early 2016. People can show their support for the declaration by "signing" it online ( https://www.consciousbusinessdeclaration.org/ )

1/. 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.
2/. In line with this reality, the purpose of Business is to increase economic prosperity while contributing to a healthy environment and improving human well being.
3/. Business must go beyond sustainability and the philosophy of “do no harm” to restoring the self-renewing integrity of the Earth.
4/. Business must operate with economic, social, and ecological transparency.
5/. Business must behave as a positive and proactive member of the local and global communities in which it operates.
6/. Business that sees, honours, and celebrates the essential interconnected nature of all human beings and all life maximises human potential and helps create a world that works for all.
7/. When aligned with Oneness, Business is the most powerful engine on Earth for creating prosperity and flourishing for all.


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