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Elevating humanity through business

CC Blog: What You Can’t Be is a Hypocrite

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By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

A border wall. Abortion. Entitlement reform. Russian interference in the most recent presidential election. Gun control.

Pick a topic and it’s likely that Americans are deeply divided on the issue—polarized and separated by their interpretation of the facts, or even holding alternate sets of facts. Politics have become so toxic it sometimes seems as though Americans are living in two separate countries.

But there’s at least one place where people are setting aside their differences and uniting in harmony behind a common banner—Conscious Capitalism.

The Conscious Capitalism movement is a big tent that unites both ardent conservatives and committed liberals. It’s a place where people who voted for President Donald Trump can work with people who loved President Barack Obama.

It’s not so much that they ignore their differences as much as that they understand their common cause and respect those who are on the same journey.

“The movement is post-partisan, and it’s converging around something more important, which is ethos,” said Dev Patnaik, CEO of Jump Associates, a Stanford University professor and self-described liberal. “That ethos comes down to one thing, which is you can do good and do well at the same time. And in fact, if you do it right, doing good will do well and doing well will do good.”

Where else but a Conscious Capitalism event might you see the CEOs of Chick-fil-A and Ben & Jerry’s on the same stage? Conscious Capitalism approaches potentially controversial viewpoints with the idea that if we are in dialog with people who disagree with us and are working together towards a common goal of improving lives for the greatest number, then the discomfort of those conversations is worth the progress they inevitably precede.

“CCI brings people together from disparate backgrounds,” CCI CEO Alexander McCobin said. “We have every religion, industry, and political perspective at the table.”

He noted that at its 2016 CEO Summit, CCI put Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank, was on the same stage as Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor under President Obama and currently chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“Both of them talked about the power of Conscious Capitalism and spoke to rejecting false choices that pit people against each other,” McCobin said. In business, one of the oldest myths is that you must choose between valuing your shareholders or valuing your vendors. Every business that practices Conscious Capitalism and outperforms their competition is actively working to disprove exactly this kind of false choice narrative that is the relic of an outdated business paradigm. Conscious leaders today know that when you bring value to everyone, the business will do better overall. “That is the unifying power of what we do.”

Patnaik agreed.

“The beauty of Conscious Capitalism is that it’s one part Texas libertarians, and one part California hippies,” Patnaik said.

And that’s exactly the way he likes it.

“I’m a big tent kind of guy,” Patnaik said. “What do you care about most? Do you want to be successful or do you just want to be right?”

He said CCI events bring people together in a spirit of growth and camaraderie.

“You go to Conscious Capitalism and it’s all about, ‘How do we improve our net promoter score?” Patnaik said, referring to an index that measures customer willingness to recommend a company to others. “So it’s not all about, ‘Yay, we’re all Conscious Capitalists.’ It’s how do we improve our business?”

Conscious Capitalism creates a powerful sense of belonging for its adherents.

“You have some crazy ideas about how the world should work, and you find out you’re not alone,” he said. “You belong. Here’s your tribe.”

It’s not uncommon for members to reflect that some of their fellow Conscious Capitalists are people they might not consider tribal relatives if not for their common beliefs about the ability of business to elevate humanity. And that common purpose is a uniting force that dwarfs individual political disagreements.

“I think you can be a conservative in Conscious Capitalism, you can be a liberal in Conscious Capitalism, and you can be a libertarian in Conscious Capitalism,” Patnaik said. “What you can’t be is a hypocrite.” Everyone who is here believes wholeheartedly in finding the best ways to elevate humanity through the power of human-centered businesses.

CCF Partner Program + Live Workshop in Miami

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Join Conscious Capitalism Florida in Downtown Miami on Friday and Saturday July 29-30, 2016.

A program and live workshop built to show you how to have a greater impact in your industry through educational web training, an in person workshop in Miami, mastermind small groups and one-on-one consultations with business experts.

Focused on your mission and what it takes to make it happen, “Leader of the New Schools” was created by millennials for millennials with the knowledge that most work is done through the help of a team, but when you are on your own or running a small business, you do not always have the people to help you think through ideas, create a road map to grow or sustain your business or the tangible support to execute your big (and small) plans. You want to “take the leap”, but what about the wings on the way down?

Date: Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30, 2016

Location: Mindwarehouse

Online Registration: Click Here to Register

Can’t attend the two day workshop? Join us for a Conscious Capitalism Florida reception on Friday, July 27th at 5 p.m. at Mindwarehouse. Free Facebook RSVP

Brooksville Company’s ‘Yes we can” Culture Engages All Stakeholders

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Brooksville company Accuform Signs celebrates a culture of “yes we can” and Wayne Johnson describes his family-operated business as “light on rules where we can be” to empower the company’s over 300 employees. Brothers Wayne and Dave Johnson grew up outside of Toronto and relocated to Florida with their family in 1977 after selling their Canadian business a year earlier.

An industry leader, Accuform maintains a family-first environment by offering employees opportunities for engagement, empowerment, and personal growth. This positive employee culture is spread through strong customer, vendor and community relationships ensuring the continued success of the company.

The Johnson’s determined their company’s values early and have maintained those core values as the business has evolved and grown. The company encourages upward mobility for employees by providing Dale Carnegie leadership and motivational training to encourage personal and professional growth. During the hiring process Accuform seeks potential employees who will fit the company’s culture with emphasis placed on those who are not just looking for a job.

Amenities provided by Accuform rival some offerings typically associated with hot Silicon Valley companies. Employees enjoy fresh breakfast and lunch prepared on site in the company’s cafeteria where Internet stations are also available for use during breaks. Meals cost roughly $2.50 each to cover food costs and feature “a good balance of healthy and comfort foods,” says Wayne. A fitness center with showers helps employees maintain healthy exercise routines, and the company regularly awards employees and has monthly anniversary celebrations.

The culture at Accuform extends beyond employees to all stakeholders. Vendors who partner with the company to provide the best solutions possible to customers. Vendors are celebrated each year with an annual awards program.

Recently Accuform Signs partnered with the Hernando County School District to launch a school makeover program where large wall graphics installed at district elementary schools include educational and inspirational themes designed to improve student learning environments. The library and cafeteria of Eastside Elementary school was completed last week with all worked performed by, and expenses covered by, Accuform.

The school makeover is a natural evolution for Accuform because of an existing relationship with one Hernando County technical school. Nature Coast High School has been part of a company internship program with some students becoming full time employees after graduation.

Five years ago Accuform began using 100 percent digital printing to avoid the use of toxic inks and dated screen printing methods which has improved capabilities and turnaround time while also being better for the environment and lowering disposal costs.

All of these stakeholder initiatives have positioned Accuform as a regional community asset and this past June the company was recognized by the Sustany Foundation as a recipient of the 2015 Sustainable Business Awards at The University of Tampa. The awards recognize leaders and companies who demonstrate sustainable business practices based on the triple bottom line of – people, planet, and profit.

Seattle Times: Largest organic grocer now Costco, analysts say

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Costco Wholesale seems to have quietly surpassed Whole Foods to become the biggest organic grocer as it courts a younger demographic, according to one investment bank.

In an earnings call last week, chief financial officer Richard Galanti mentioned that the Issaquah warehouse club’s sales of organic products exceeded $4 billion annually — up from a previous $3 billion-plus estimate given last year.

That means, analysts with BMO Capital Markets said in a research note, that the discount chain is “possibly now already eclipsing” the industry leader, Whole Foods, which the investment outfit estimates sells about $3.6 billion in organic stuff every year.

Read more at the Seattle Times.

Ft Lauderdale CEO Raises Wages Up to 50 Percent, Challenges Others

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“We who are in responsible positions need to take a far more vested approach with the people who are working for us,” says Andrew Green, owner and CEO of Ft. Lauderdale-based based multimedia manufacturing company, Green Solutions. The 18-year-old company designs and manufactures printed materials and discs for the educational, religious, fitness, direct response, music and independent film industries, and also provides kitting and fulfillment services.

Andrew carried out his convictions by raising his employees’ wages by 35 to 50 percent.

The seemingly rash decision actually followed a lot of thought, debate and discussion about the role of business in causing and addressing social issues.

“Over the past year it’s been really bothering me,” he says. “The overreach of CEOs, Boards of Directors and executives of companies who are creating hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits and bonuses for themselves — it’s just over-the-top wealth that they don’t even know what to do with. Meanwhile, there are people in their companies who are struggling.

“I’m thinking about all of this income inequality and talking about it with my friends on Facebook, and battling about what can be done about it, what’s the government’s job in all this—or what shouldn’t it be—and then I saw that article about Gravity Payments.”

Andrew had read about Dan Price, CEO of the credit card processing company, who took a 90 percent pay cut to raise the minimum salary at the Seattle-based firm from $50,000 to $75,000 a year. Andrew says, “I looked at that and went, ‘Wow, what a huge thing to do.’”

Inspired by the bold move, and after talking it over with his wife and crunching the numbers, Andrew decided to follow suit.

Some of the employees shed tears when they received the news. One had been living with her daughter and son-in-law because she couldn’t afford the high cost of South Florida housing. The raise gave her greater independence. Each employee has since confessed they had been living hand-to-mouth, but now they can finally save and get ahead.

The raises mean bringing in 12.5 percent less profit, and pushing back some personal purchases, but he feels it was called for. To explain his rationale, Andrew says, “Look at the overall breakdown of a company: You have a CEO, you have your executives and your managers, and you have your workers. We all just have a job in our companies.

“I’m the key sales guy in my company. I’m the guy that goes out there and gets the business. It’s my job to do that.

“My operations person, it’s her job to make sure that every aspect of that job is put in properly and goes through our factories properly. It’s a very important job.

“Our guy in the back, he has to make sure in his particular job that he’s doing the right thing in every single part of it because if there is any breakdown it doesn’t matter how good I am as a CEO, if the job goes in and he doesn’t do the right thing, then the company will fail.

“So I started looking at it and wondered, ‘How is it that I’m paid so much more than everybody? What makes it so correct in our society that my job is so much more important—or a CEOs job is so much more important to a company that a CEO should make 200 to 300 times more?’ There isn’t any reason for that.

“I’m not saying to take away the incentive of a CEO to do a great job, to go out there and provide as much profit to the company as they can, but at a certain point is it the company or is it themselves?  They can’t even spend the money they have. They end up playing with the money and putting it in offshore accounts and hiding it from taxes. It’s irresponsible. It’s inhumane.”

Though he admits “inhumane” seems a harsh accusation, Andrew illustrates:

“It’s inhumane if you’re sitting there and you have people in your company making $35,000 a year and Human Resources is telling them, ‘You’re not due for a raise for another year or two and you should be happy you have this job.’ And then the CEO goes out there and steps in his Maserati or whatever car, because he says, ‘Look, we have to show a level of success in the company or our clients won’t work with us.’ Then it becomes a status thing because success breeds success. Successful people only want to do business with other successful people. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of our business models and our structure.  And I get it. But where does the 80-foot yacht come into play?”

In alignment with Conscious Capitalism’s Stakeholder Orientation, which looks at all of a company’s stakeholders, Andrew believes redirecting corporate profits from exorbitant executive pay to employee wages has a wider economic impact. “Funnel it through your company and through your employees,” he says, “because they’ll actually buy and live locally. It’s actually better for the economy to do it that way.”

“I’m not looking for the government to do this for me, or for us,” Andrew says. “I want other CEOs to step up. I think it’s beyond time.”

Business Award Celebrates Seven Years of Sustainablity in Tampa Bay

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On Wednesday, June 10, 2015 the Tampa Bay business community will come together to recognize and honor for-profit businesses in the Tampa Bay Area that engage in practices that increase economic opportunities and improve the environment and community.

The Sustainable Business Coalition of Tampa Bay, Inc. and the University of Tampa Center for Ethics will hold the 7th Annual Sustainable Business Awards at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center. Companies that are considered for the award must meet three core criteria.

Companies must strive to be good corporate citizens of the Tampa Bay community by improving work environments and community outreach; they must show sustained positive economic performance that contributes to the overall economic health of Tampa Bay; and they must be engaged in contributing to the environmental health of the Tampa Bay area through programs such as waste reduction and improved energy efficiency.

The goal of the awards is to bring favorable attention to companies that are embracing sustainability. Business leaders “who are doing not just the right thing but the smart thing” says Andrew McIntosh, chairman of the Sustainable Business Coalition (SBC) and partner with the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. The SBC, working in concert with University of Tampa Center for Ethics and now also with The Sustany Foundation, recognizes ‘sustainable businesses’ in Tampa Bay. “Through the SBC, we have established and continue to develop a platform through which businesses can be recognized and share best practices with other sustainability-minded leaders,” adds McIntosh.

The 2015 Sustainable Business Awards luncheon will be held on  Wednesday  June 10th at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center 9th floor from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM  Click here for details.

Advertising Age: Taco Bell to Eliminate Artificial… ‘Simplify’ Food

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Food marketers are increasingly updating their ingredient lists to appeal to changing consumer sentiment, with companies from Kraft to McDonald’s eliminating ingredients perceived as questionable, and now Taco Bell is the latest company to update its menu to respond to consumer demand.

By the end of this year, the company will update its core menu to remove artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, added trans fats and unsustainable palm oil, said Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s chief innovation officer. The move will affect 95% of the chain’s menu, but will not impact beverages or co-branded items.

By the end of 2017, Taco Bell will work to remove additional artificial preservatives and additives “wherever possible,” according to a statement.

Read more at Advertising Age

HufPost: Reframing the Game: On the Pivotal Role of Business in Driving Societal and Systemic Transformation

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The world faces enormous challenges, from poverty to food security and climate change. For too long business sat on the sidelines, unable or unwilling to be part of the solution to these systemic challenges. This is changing — as the limitations of governments in resolving these critical issues becomes increasingly apparent, as citizens increasingly demand change, and as the cost of inaction starts to exceed the cost of action.

The drive to meet these challenges comes not only from a moral standpoint, but also with a strong commercial imperative — and that is why a growing number of enlightened businesses are stepping up to the plate. Three-quarters of the largest companies in the world have set clear social and environmental goals, 4000 now report on CO2 emissions, and 50 of the top 200 have an internal price for carbon. A major shift in our model of commerce is already underway.

Read more at Huffington Post.

HuffPost: Global Businesses & Climate Change: Don’t Get Left Behind

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Here’s a simple fact: taking decisive action on climate change will cost us less than failing to do so.

At Unilever, we operate in 190 countries with two billion people using our products daily. We take climate seriously because we know that it impacts those two billion people — and that means it impacts us, too. A changing climate already costs Unilever between $300 million and $400 million every year — mainly because of droughts and flooding — manifestations of climate-induced extreme weather that will only become more frequent in the future. When the climate hurts, people and businesses also feel the pain…

…The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, comprised of leaders from business, government and academia and of which I am a member, reported last year that the world will require $90 trillion of investment in infrastructure over the next 15 years. This money will be invested anyway but we have the opportunity to invest it wisely, setting us on a low-carbon-development pathway.

…We are already responding to the climate challenge. It’s time for governments to join us in ensuring better growth and a better climate for all.

Read the entire article at Huffington Post.

Huff Post: Why Business is a Force for Good, Yes Really

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Cut to the evil businessman cackling as he counts his coins while his workers slave away in the salt mines, giving their lifeblood for his riches.

We all know the story. It’s the common narrative of pop culture movies and TV shows.

But what if this old story isn’t true?

Consider this:

Prior to the Industrial revolution, most of the world lived in poverty. According to research from the World Bank in the year 1000, real GDP per capita was $435 per year (in today’s dollars) 750 years later, in 1750, it was only $667. During the first few thousand years of our existence, for most humans, life was sheer survival. People spent their days scrounging for food and seeking shelter. Very few lived past forty.

In the 150 years after the Industrial Revolution, real GDP rose to $2,113 and by 2013 it was $13,100.

Many people on the planet are still in survival mode, but that’s not because of business. It’s actually the absence of commerce that keeps people impoverished.

Read more at Huff Post Business.