Lesson 2: Introduction to Conscious Capitalism

The conscious capitalism movement in the United States, which emerged from the theory of corporate social responsibility, advocates for a business strategy that benefits both human beings and the environment. Conscious capitalism pushes for values-based economic values where values represent social and environmental concerns at both global and local scales. As such, the notion of conscious capitalism goes beyond “doing well by doing good” and develops a new structure for business and its reasons for existing.

Conscious capitalism is a useful way to think about the complex relationship between virtue and profits. Guided by conscious capitalism, many companies have created or installed models that make money by doing good—for example, by creating an inexpensive product for sale in the developing world that simply and quickly purifies water. These business activities are desirable economically, socially, environmentally, and ethically.

The Triple Bottom Line approach that focuses on people, plant, and profit provides a guideline for conscious capitalism.

The approach to profit is what distinguishes the entity as a business from the general social enterprise. As Peter Drucker noted “Profit for business is like oxygen for people: if you don’t have enough of it, you’re out of the game. However, if you think your life is about breathing you’ve clearly missed something.” Essentially, conscious capitalism says that a business cannot be acting solely in self-interest, but rather must execute on both the fundamentals of profit and social good. Conscious capitalism reflects an evolution of the dominant capitalist economic model.

Next Page: Conscious Capitalism: A Definition