"Conscious Business" is a term used to describe a business enterprise that seeks to be aware of the effects of its actions, and to consciously affect human beings and the environment in a beneficial way. Conscious Business also refers to a movement towards “Values-based” economic value, where “Values” represent social and environmental concerns globally as well as locally. The Conscious Business movement has emerged from the theory of Corporate Social Responsibility, and is currently related to movements of Not Just For Profit Business Models, Conscious Consumerism, and Socially Responsible Investing. Conscious Business could also be referred to as “Conscious Capitalism”. As well as being a category of business, it can also mean an individual and personal approach to business, as in "she did business consciously".
Conscious Business Criteria
There is currently no agreed upon criteria to ascertain whether a business is a Conscious Business or not. However, there are some highly agreed upon principles:
• Doing No Harm
It is generally agreed upon that the product or service of a Conscious Business should not be intrinsically harmful to humans or the environment. However, it is possible for such a business to be taking part in the Conscious Business movement if it is taking conscious steps to become more aware of its social and environmental affects, and to adopt more beneficial social or environmental practices.
• Triple Bottom Line Model
Most Conscious Businesses subscribe to a Triple Bottom Line model of success for their business endeavor. They aim to provide positive value in the domain of People, Planet, and Profit.
A Conscious Business seeks to benefit both the external livelihood as well as the internal lives of its shareholders and employees. Furthermore, the Business seeks to benefit all stakeholders including manufacturers, affected communities, and humanity at large. Some trends in Conscious Business which have arisen out of these efforts include:
A Conscious Business will seek to minimize its impact on the environment, and replenish the environment where it is able. Conscious Businesses may choose to benefit the environment in many different ways. Some trends include:
• "Above and Beyond"
Many Conscious Businesses choose to use their resources to benefit social and environmental programs that are not directly related to the creation or distribution of the product or service. Frequently, a Conscious Business will donate employee paid time, money, or products towards various non-profit organizations. Sometimes a Conscious Business will create a Foundation, which works with one particular cause. Also, some Conscious Businesses will become involved with social or political campaigns to protect the environment, animals, or people. Conscious Businesses will sometimes use significant amounts of their profit towards these causes. Furthermore, a Conscious Business will sometimes work closely with suppliers in either a farming or manufacturing community in a developing country, and help to develop the community economically and replenish it environmentally.
Conscious Business Versus Social Responsibility
To term a business a Conscious Business is unique from the concept of a Socially Responsible Business although, of course, a Conscious Business is likely to be Socially Responsible. Being a Conscious Business does not only mean implementing a Local Community Program, or creating a company Foundation; a business could implement one of these programs and still not be aware or respond to the fact that the business as a whole is doing more harm than good.
The term Conscious Business implies that a business will seek to be conscious of its impact on the world in various spheres, and continue this inquiry over time. It is concerned with both its impact on a human’s inner and outer world as well as animal and environmental well-being. Furthermore, a Conscious Business considers both short-term and long-term effects of its actions or inactions. A Conscious Business evolves as do the methods that a business chooses to be of benefit to the world and to function with awareness. Therefore, though Conscious Businesses will be Socially Responsible, the term “Conscious Business” holds larger connotations for the businesses’ actions than does Social Responsibility.
Many believe that Anita Roddick pioneered the Conscious Business Movement with her company, “The Body Shop” in 1976. This company has been an environmental leader, and has worked to support various activist causes, including putting an end to animal testing, and defending human rights.
An overwhelming amount of Conscious Businesses can be found in the health food industry as well as the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) market. However, today Conscious Businesses can be found emerging in almost all aspects of the business world.
There are various agencies and companies that catalogue the social and environmental practices of businesses for consumer use, as well as companies which consult with businesses to increase their awareness and beneficial practices in the world.
Conscious Business is about people who are aware of the impact each of their habits and actions has on their environment (people and planet). It is about people who live their lives based on the knowingness that everything is interconnected. It is about people who know who they are:
Conscious Business Versus Sustainability
There's a huge trend towards more sustainable business practices. Environmental sustainability however, has little to do with Conscious Business. Organizations can be highly sustainable, but still be run in an unconscious way. A Conscious Business however, will not maintain unsustainable business practices.