The Conscience Capitalism conference, which I attended last week in Philadelphia, was a gift to the mind and soul. Together with more than 400 likeminded business leaders, I was immersed in a philosophy, which we at Teak hold dear: business can be a force for good.

With more than 35 chapters across the country, Conscious Capitalism is a movement that is growing. In fact, Teak was among the companies that helped to start the chapter in Boston.

Conscious Capitalism was founded on the belief in four pillars:

  • Business has a higher purpose than solely making money
  • Conscious business takes into account the needs of all stakeholders, including customers, employees, supply chains, and shareholders
  • A conscious business is run by a conscious leader
  • Conscious businesses develop conscious cultures

These are lofty, attainable and absolutely necessary goals, to be sure.

Conscious leadership may be the most difficult of the four tenants to master because it is not always easy to sustain.  For me, being self-aware when under pressure is a daily practice. The first step is recognizing that the way in which we treat all around us matters deeply. Then behaving in a purposeful and emotionally sound way is the real challenge, especially when problems arise. Push the wrong button, and the calmness earned through weeks of meditation goes up in smoke, or sometimes in flames.

The concept that every decision we make is based on either love or fear is one I have long believed, and became reacquainted with at the conference.  It is true in life and it is equally as true in business. Conscious business leaders base decisions on love, eschewing fear at every turn.

A great example of a business decision made of love instead of fear came from conference speaker Mike Brady, CEO of Greyston Bakery. His company has an open hiring practice, which gives the formerly incarcerated an opportunity to reinvent themselves with honest and meaningful work. Stories from bakery workers about how lives were transformed as a result of having found purpose through work were emotional and empowering. His program should be a national model to combat the mass incarceration problem we have in this country.

This all sounds lovely, right? The truth is, conscious business practices are not only good for the soul. They are good for the bottom line. Statistics show that conscious businesses are more profitable. This is because people know when they are being treated well and they reward their conscious managers and companies with loyalty, productivity, and good customer service, all of which lead to increased profitability.

Think about it, how can a business that is based on love not succeed?