A conscious organisation accepts that there are limits to profit and that it should not be the priority. This change is about future-proofing your organisation. It’s not an ‘if’ question — it’s ‘when.’
We live in an age where organisations know that they have to make some big changes, but they are not always sure what those changes are. They certainly know why they have to make changes — the world is on fire in one place and underwater in another.
What is a conscious organisation?
The constant pursuit of bottom-line growth is precisely why we are facing these extreme dangers. A conscious organisation to me is a company that commits to growing the Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit.
A conscious organisation accepts that there are limits to profit and that it should not be the priority. If profit cannot be achieved within the limited resources of the planet and without addressing inequality, then it cannot be achieved.
Why choose to be conscious?
If you are reading this and thinking that it sounds good, but you have no idea how you’re going to approach the leaders in your organisation with such a crazy idea, let me help.
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75 percent of employees say their job is more fulfilling if they are provided opportunities to make an impact, and companies with engaged staff outperform their competitors by 143 percent on earnings per share.
The latest Consumer Report shows big shifts towards ethical food and drink, including plant-based and Fairtrade goods. Clean energy has seen a similar rise — one of the biggest increases comes in the electric vehicle market, which has risen to £4.9bn in the UK.
Data also show that triple-bottom-line-related issues are ~80 percent likely to impact a consumer’s purchasing decision to buy.
So, this change is about future-proofing your organisation. It’s not an ‘if’ question — it’s a ‘when’ question.
The 3 pillars
Pillar 1: Be mission-focused
If you are lucky enough to be working for an organisation that has a clear, purpose-driven mission statement that you can see in the values of the organisation every day, then congratulations. This is rare, though.
Your mission and values should be living and breathing inside of every decision the company makes. Conscious Creatives’ mission is to see the world fit inside of the ecological ceiling and social foundation that Kate Raworth has set out in ‘Doughnut Economics.’ That’s our end goal. We aren’t going to turn away any awards that we get but we aren’t trying to win awards — we are trying to save the planet.
Brene Brown’s book, Dare to Lead, is a great tool for getting to grips with real leadership and aligning your organisation to your values. The most important part that I found in my business was creating a list of behaviours that represent our values, so that it’s clear what is expected from everyone. Allow people to interpret that for their job roles and watch the culture change.
Pillar 2: Set the right kind of plan
There is no set way to make these changes, which is part of the problem. There are many options and it’s not easy to pick the right one.
If you are a larger organization, then it’s likely that you will be including sustainability and impact reporting as part of your non-financial disclosures. This is a fantastic place to start; use the discussions you are having as part of that to unlock new ideas.
Whether you are big or small, we recommend using a framework such as Doughnut Economics or the UN's Sustainable Development Goals as the best way to make sure you are aligning your organisation’s strategy with true sustainability impacts. You can use national government guidelines; but here in the UK, for example, net-zero by 2050 doesn’t line up with the science and you may wish to set more ambitious goals.
You will also need to look at all of your stakeholders and how your relationships with one another create impact. We recommend creating influence maps to see which stakeholders you are already influencing and which you need to add in order to achieve your mission.
Over the top of that map, then create new ideas on how to influence those stakeholders. As an example, Conscious Creatives wanted to influence our local council, so I joined it to bring my expertise and knowledge directly to my community. There happened to be a place open at the time; but if not, then there were many other ways to influence. That’s where the magic is.
Pillar 3: Communication
If all is well, then by now you’ve made the brave decision to get more conscious; you’ve got yourself a solid grasp of where you are now and a strategy for where you are heading. You’re feeling confident, somehow; but maybe a little nervous, too. Now comes the hard part: sharing your vision with the world.
It’s really important that you have two communications strategies — one for your internal stakeholders and one for external. You are likely making some pretty big investment decisions, and your staff need to know how it affects them and also how excited they should be about the new initiatives.
In the ever-changing marketplace, your customers need to know about the positive choices you’ve made and how it will affect their experience. Consumers want to feel better about the way they spend their money, so go tell them why they should feel good.
It’s important to do this step properly, because you want your staff and board to be more engaged and you want your consumers excited about handing over their hard-earned money. If you have them, then bring your CSR, PR and Marketing folks into the conversation and let their expertise drive how to communicate the information. They know the pitfalls and opportunities.
When do we make the changes?
Now. We are on a limited amount of time here and the task ahead of us is huge. If we don’t make the necessary changes immediately, then we are part of the problem. I don’t know about you, but I want to be proud of the legacy I leave.
If you also want to leave a legacy you are proud of, then I urge you to consider starting now to help your organisation become a truly conscious one.