Raj Sisodia is FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College, and Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Conscious Capitalism Inc. Raj is co-author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (2013) and Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Matters (2015) written together with Bob Chapman. In 2003, he was cited as one of “50 Leading Marketing Thinkers” by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He was named one of “Ten Outstanding Trailblazers of 2010” by Good Business International, and one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America for 2010 and 2011.
Last year we met with Raj in Boston during the presentation tour of our book on Sales Ethics, and he offered to come to Italy to present his approach on conscious capitalism. He is also interested in starting the Italian chapter of the namesake organization, a fast-growing global movement with a presence in 10 countries and 25 US cities. Prof. Sisodia will be in Cesena on the 24th of November for an open seminary about “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the heroic spirit of business” during which he will show us how his organization has succeeded in gathering CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, policy leaders and spiritual teachers, all aligned with a vision of uplifting all of humanity through the extraordinary power of business to do good.
Diario: What does Conscious Capitalism exactly mean and why could this topic be interesting to managers, entrepreneurs and sellers?
Sisodia: Conscious capitalism is a different way of thinking about business. It includes four key pillars:
- Higher purpose: Every business should have a higher purpose that goes beyond making money. Businesses need to make money, but they should exist for reasons other than making money. Making money is the outcome of a business that is achieving its purpose well.
- Stakeholder integration: Businesses should consciously seek to create value for all of their stakeholders, not just for their investors or shareholders. Further, they should look to break the trade-off mentality between stakeholders, and seek instead to create simultaneous positive outcomes for all stakeholders in their decision-making.
- Conscious leadership: The leaders of a business should be driven by its purpose and by service to its people, rather than by power or personal enrichment. Such leaders mentor, motivate, develop and inspire people to work towards a shared vision.
- Caring cultures: The cultures of conscious businesses are built upon trust, authenticity, caring, transparency, integrity, learning and empowerment. People are highly engaged and look forward to coming to work every day, unlike at traditional companies whose cultures tend to have a lot of fear and stress in them.
Diario: Can ethics and consciousness improve selling performances or are self-interested behaviors still the most effective so far?
Sisodia: We live in a world of extraordinary connectivity and access to information. Companies and executives that engage in purely self-interested behaviors will soon be recognized as untrustworthy by customers. Operating with a deep sense of ethics, an inspiring higher purpose, and higher consciousness helps to create a strong, trusting and mutually beneficial relationships between companies and all of their stakeholders, including customers. Such companies act as advocates on behalf of what is in the best interest for their customers.
Diario: Why are so many people, corporations and institutions now speaking about business ethics (even the Pope wrote the encyclical Laudato si about this topic a few month ago)? Is this a new trend or has something really changed?
Sisodia: The consequences of an unconscious approach to capitalism have been felt by many people for a long time. Businesses have created a lot of value but there has also been tremendous human suffering. We have experienced on a grand scale the societal consequences of this way of being, be it the financial crises or the various environmental crises that we face. Human beings are also evolving rapidly: we are far better informed, connected, more intelligent, more conscious, more driven by meaning and purpose and more in harmony with so-called feminine values such as empathy, nurturing, compassion and caring. Business as usual simply will not work anymore, nor can people and the planet afford the many “negative externalities” that are generated by this way of being. We have to rethink everything.
Diario: Italy has some peculiarities such as the small dimension of its companies, family owned businesses, a strong catholic culture and so on. Are these advantages or disadvantages when choosing the conscious capitalism approach?
Sisodia: Generally speaking, cultures that have a stronger family orientation and deeper grounding in spiritual values will find greater resonance with the principles of conscious capitalism. In other words, this is something that should feel very natural to Italian businesses.
Diario: Could you briefly describe to our readers why it is important to participate to the 24th November event? What could they learn and what are they going to achieve?
Sisodia: Participants will be exposed to a different and more inspiring way to think about business and capitalism that creates extraordinary value of multiple kinds, without imposing the burdens that the traditional approach brings.
The topic of this second free appointment with business ethics in Cesena (click here to know about the previous one) is interesting to all business leaders because the traditional way of thinking about business simply doesn’t work well anymore. Research shows that companies that practice conscious capitalism are much more financially successful in the long term, while also creating many other kinds of well-being for all of the stakeholders, including society and the environment, over time.
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