Conscious Capitalism: Can Empathy Change the World?


In the late 19th century, a concept called the Progressive Movement crept through the vineworks of American business thinking. While there were many aspects of Progressivism–including cleaning up local government, one of the more high-minded Progressive theories worked like this: A working factory would be drop-shipped onto an agrarian community and provide prosperity for a local populace surrounded by the natural wonders of clean air and water.


This was a utopian ideal that contrasted with the smudgy skies and open sewage of the contemporary 1800s urbanscape. To superimpose Industrial progress over Agrarian rural communities seemed fantastical, yet businessmen like Henry Ford latched onto the ideals of the Progressive Movement, and moved his fledgling automobile company to Dearborn. Similar Progressive communities sprouted in the pastoral area of Kohler, Wisconsin, where brick manufacturing evolved into today’s Kohler plumbing products. The Amana Colonies in Amana, Iowa are also attributed in part to the Progressive Movement.


Every so often, the men and women who aspire to construct corporate empires need something to live for: an ideal higher than healthy profits.


The latest quest for new consciousness seems to be happening now. In October, the 6th Annual Conscious Capitalism Institute CEO Summit will be held outside of Austin, Texas. In tandem, John Mackey, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods, is co-authoring a book titled Conscious Capitalism with Raj Sisodia (Mackey is also a founder of the Institute).


Speakers include Tony Hsieh of, restaurateur Danny Meyer, Kip Tindell of The Container Store, and others that make up a long list of dot orgs, corporations, individuals and communities who are embracing the new consciousness.


The entire staff of GOOD magazine recently left their posts to form a new magazine called Tomorrow that will focus on what’s new and, most of all, what’s good. It can be argued that green initiatives, diversity, sustainability, and other people-friendly moves might all fall under the umbrella philosophies of conscious capitalism.


“Conscious capitalism is an idea, an orientation, and an approach to business,” acknowledges Jeff Klein, a trustee in Conscious Capitalism, Inc. “And it’s an organization.”


Conscious Capitalism, Inc. started as an organization in August, 2006, and focuses principally on enterprise and the recognition that every business has a purpose beyond the firm.  Read More