Guest post from C3MD Board Member Mark Donnelly: I wrote an overview of what Conscious Capitalism means to me back in October 2020, as I tried to process the struggles and successes of that very difficult year. As I settle into 2023 I find it to still be relevant and worthy of discussion. I decided to share it, with the hope of connecting with others that are also trying to process similar things.
– Mark Donnelly, C3MD Board Member
2020 has been a year of extreme upheaval. A year likely to encourage lasting change for us all. I believe when we look back on this period in the years to come hindsight will truly be 2020. Many of the things we have done up until this point will soon seem unfathomable to us all.
With that in mind, I thought it appropriate to give my vision for the future. A vision that will shape my investment philosophy and investment decisions for the years ahead.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a vision for an equal and just world that he incorporated into his image of a “World House.” A global community inclusive to all human beings. I believe this vision is finally starting to take shape, over fifty years after his passing. This will have a profound impact on all our lives. It will change how we work and conduct business, which will also shape how investment returns are made and lost.
MLK pointed out in his final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” that both Capitalist and Communist systems had failed. He was right. It took us a lot longer to accept the limitations of Capitalism than it did Communism thanks to the illusion of success Capitalism provides. But we’re seeing the failures more clearly now due to extreme levels of income inequality, climate change, and high levels of sickness and suicide in the “wealthiest” nations. We are not well, and the natural world is not well.
MLK realized there were positive attributes, as well as shortcomings, with Capitalism and Communism. He suggested by acting consciously and with compassion, we could realize the positives of each while sidestepping the problems that have dogged each system. The solution he saw was in embracing the individualism of Capitalism, while ensuring the collective good of Communism receives equal standing. This can be achieved by creating a system aligning individual incentives with collective ones, so the best outcomes are the same for the individual as they are for the collective whole. As with all good investments, this requires a focus on the long term, while side-stepping the human tendency to seek out short-term satisfaction. Just like exercising, eating healthy, or saving money.
Focusing on our long-term success together, embracing the uniqueness of the individual, and celebrating our collective similarities is Conscious Capitalism. It would be equally correct to call it Conscious Communism. If we weren’t so afraid by the mere mention of the word Communism.
To some, it may sound impossible to achieve an alignment of what is right for me and what is right for you. We’ve been so convinced by our current system based on “survival of the fittest” that if I win someone else must lose. We can achieve alignment, but we must let go of the competition mindset and replace it with one of collaboration. A system of Conscious Capitalism is far simpler, easier to administer, and more profitable to implement. It is a system that by its very nature minimizes waste and destruction, energizes large groups of people, and encourages us to reach our full potential together. Nothing is more powerful in lighting a fire than a shared mission. It is not only more profitable, but it promotes well-being and is better for all of us.
For us to make this change to a system of Conscious Capitalism it requires the few people that currently have most power, to share it with others. Not to give it up entirely, only to share it. But it must be given freely and not taken. A foundation for Conscious Capitalism cannot be built on any feeling of injustice, and the ends cannot be used to justify the means.
While many people are loath to give up any power, fortunately, the numbers aren’t in their favor. And now, finally, the groups that have for so long been divided – women, those with less money, racial minorities, and LGBTQ+ people – are coming together. They are realizing the power in their numbers, focusing on their significant similarities, and becoming more accepting of their differences. They are moving us all toward change. And change is coming.
The question I’m left with is what will that change look like and what route are we likely to take to get there?
Thank you to our most recent board member, Mark Donnelly, for sharing his hope for Conscious Capitalism with the C3MD community. If you are interested in submitting a guest blog post please reach out. We want to hear what you have to offer!
We appreciate the blog contributions of our conscious business community. The views and opinions expressed on the blog are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.