Capitalism. It has become a dirty word in our culture, synonymous with cronyism and greed – the one-per-centers and the 2008 financial collapse. Since the collapse we’ve been inundated with stories of corrupt banking institutions and injustice. But there are companies that aren’t scamming their employees and harming the environment – there’s even a word for it – conscious capitalism. Naropa University recently hosted a panel discussion on conscious capitalism that highlighted the work of New Belgium Brewery, Bhakti Chi and B-Lab. — by Roz Brown.
Kim Coupounas is the director of the non-profit B Lab and works with companies that are voluntarily choosing a higher standard for environmental and social practice and expressing their concerns around the Trump administration.
“There are risks to standing up in partisan ways versus standing up for specific issues you care about,” said Coupounas. “There’s always been an interest in what the for-profit company, specifically mission-driven and values-driven companies can do to impact policy and the lives of everyday people and the planet with their voice. Every company has a certain reach to their customers – but how can they use it to influence policy change – and no better time than now. And your listeners can impact that – they can ask the hard questions about the values of their companies and what they can do as a consumer to express their values through dollars spent.”
Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewery is a certified B Corporation dedicated to proving that business can be a force for good in the world. Assistant Director of Sustainability at New Belgium Katie Wallace says the beer company actively works to protect water resources.
“We need to protect those resources or we don’t have a product,” said Wallace. “At this point in time water and climate issues seem far away but we’re planning to be in business many decades from now so we’re passionate about taking care of the resources that provide for us and can regenerate if they’re properly stewarded.”
Boulder-born sparkling tea Bhakti Chai is also a B certified company. CEO Sarah Bird says they are actively pursuing legislation that would make organic food cheaper and more widely available than ever before, as well as mandatory GMO labeling.
“On the organic front there’s a website called GROorganic.net and you can sign a petition for the organic industry by April 19,” said Bird. “And on the justlabelit.org website there are two ways to be involved in the GMO labeling bill.’
The Conscious Leadership and Business Activism event at Naropa was co-sponsored by the Social Venture Network and moderated by Meghan French Dunbar, co-founder of Conscious Company Media. She publishes a magazine that highlights companies promoting sustainable business practices.
“Our role is getting the word out through our magazine articles,” said Dunbar. “We will also host a Conscious Leadership forum June 7-9 in San Francisco talking about business advocacy,” said Dunbar. Visit consciouscompanymedia.com for more information.