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.”
“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.