Conscious Capitalism is Not Conscious

I have a deep belief that each of us has a responsibility to do their part to help the world be a better place. Me? I bring consciousness to business through a values-based decision facilitation model, aiming to make the practice of sales be ethical and servant-leader based. Each of us has our own offering.

From 1990 – 1995 I keynoted at Wisdom at Work conferences, dedicated to bringing ethical values into the workplace. In those days, we were focused on how people could serve each other, make the workplace a respectful place for people to grow, and treat our employees as if they were our customers. We discussed ‘spirit’ at work, responsible leadership, compensation issues, and how to create leaders.

Over the past 20 years, the workplace has become the hub of new thinking – where ideas germinate, where leadership and ideas create global initiatives, manage diversity, and change technology to make the world’s intelligence accessed by all. The environment has been a pressing issue as the workplace has been a polluter in many ways.

One of the terms that is now being used as an outgrowth of the movement is ‘Conscious Capitalism.’ I first read the term in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about John Mackey, the CEO of  Whole Foods, long considered to be the father of the organic ‘movement.’ He’s right here in Austin, which is itself, a mecca for new thinking, grown up hippies, and yes, a bit of eccentricity.

Ah, I said. Now I can go back to my roots, and lend a hand! Now Spirit in the Workplace is getting corporate support and I can add my skills with the skills of others from the ‘old’ movement – Martin Rutte who brings collaborative communication into corporations, and author of the stunning new book How to Achieve Heaven on Earth; Gil Friend, helping companies and governments design, implement and measure profitable sustainability strategies; Turk Pipkin of the Nobelity Project and the movie One Peace at a Time, and Lee Glickstein, bringing Relational Presence to each person to enable them to share their true selves.

I set about finding the Conscious Capitalism conference that I read about in the article so I could attend. I found them – the Conscious Capitalism Institute. Cool Beans!! A real group, with a real website, with a real conference. A group that espoused ‘conscious leadership’ and focusing on ‘a higher purpose.’ Or so it said. Great words, but they ain’t walking their talk. Nope. These guys seem to be a bunch of egos, playing the same game corporate types have always played but using the ‘new movement’ as their excuse. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I looked around the site and attempted to sign up. Seems that it was ‘Invite Only.’ How odd, for a group that called itself Conscious to not allow and make room for anyone who wanted to share, participate, offer assistance and new thinking into the group. [If you consider the accepted definition of consciousness, the underlying belief system is love, non-judgment, respect, responsibility. And whoever shows up is part of the group – and those with ‘difficulties’ learn from the others, raising the consciousness of the whole group, each other, and the world. IMHO, that is.]

To begin with, I wrote kind, excited, intro emails to each person named on the video clip, hoping to begin a dialogue. I got no responses. None. I then tried to find a group member I might know, so I could get an invitation. But the list was not available.

I wrote a ‘contact’ note to the site and heard from a man I once met named Jeff Klien. Jeff wrote me with a cc to a colleague named Caitlin Ewing to contact me. Caitlin never called. I emailed Jeff weeks later. Nothing. I waited another couple of weeks and emailed again. Finally Caitlin wrote saying, ‘What are you talking about? The summer conference is private, and the fall conference is invitation-only.” Sooooo invite me!!

What is this cloak and dagger stuff? In my map of the world, this is outrageous. Conscious? I don’t think so. Feels like the old old-boy network all over again. Same old-same old. I asked friends in the ‘spirit at work’ movement if they’d heard of Conscious Capitalism. Nope. I guess it’s a secret society and they are not allowed to divulge their secrets. And they will carefully vet who they want to allow in. What, may I ask, is conscious about that?

As this is my Cranky Tuesday blog post, I get to vent. Today I’m truly angry that the true conscious spirit of possibility, and leadership, and diversity, and servant-leadership, have folks like these giving a bad name to the work that so many of us have been doing for decades.

Give me a call. I’ll introduce you to folks who will serve you, help you and your companies be all they can be, teach you how to lead by serving, make money by making nice, and be successful without harming the planet or people.

And I invite you all to join me and my friends. All. We can re-define what’s conscious capitalism and do the work, together.


Hear Sharon-Drew discuss Buying Facilitation™ on

Check out my new book: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

Or consider purchasing the bundleDirty Little Secrets plus my last book Buying Facilitation™: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. These books were written to be read together, as they offer the full complement of concepts to help you learn and understand Buying Facilitation™ – the new skill set that gives you the ability to lead buyers through their buying decisions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top