What does it mean to be a ‘Conscious’ buisness?

We are living through a conscious revolution which can be defined as choosing to embrace a philosophy as seeking to prioritise the welfare and wellbeing of both human beings and the planet. However this has not always been the case. How did we arrive at this point and why is it described as a revolution? 

Before exploring what it means to be a ‘conscious business’, Bobby Ward, Founder at Vorto, explores the history of philosophy and how this has fundamentally impacted the way we live and built our society today.

If we look back to the 16th and 17th centuries, humankind lived through the scientific revolution. This time period was defined by a drastic change in the approach to scientific thought that was underpinned by mechanistic and rationalistic thinking. From this perspective, the scientific revolution viewed nature as a machine and embraced abstract reasoning over humanity. 

Whilst the scientific revolution had a great impact on how society lived, transformed education and technology, its detached approach to nature bred a sense of disconnection. Businesses viewed nature and people as a form of capital that can be used for financial gain. In the 20th century, this has been represented through the development of the GDP model as a global determination of growth. The formula of GDP is calculated in three ways, using income, production and expenditures. None of these three words showcase or represent the health of nature, ecosystems or people.

This lack of connection fuelled many thinkers, business leaders and consumers to seek out an antidote and a new way of thinking that is connected with what it means to be human and respecting nature. This search has fuelled a conscious revolution that is now shaping the way we live and inspiring business models. 

On a fundamental level, to be a conscious business is to prioritise human wellbeing and nature above GDP. On a more practical level, businesses are using these two priorities to address unprecedented global challenges we face such as climate change and social issues. People, notably conscious consumers and impact investors, are understanding that business can be a tool to solve pressing issues and make the world a better place whilst simultaneously creating a new age of capitalism. 

Conscious businesses are guided by a greater sense of purpose, their value systems, vision and mission. They operate within a framework of high ethical standards that are held accountable to the communities they serve, investors and stakeholders, as well as the environment. They are invested in an operational model that seeks to safeguard the future whilst managing goals and targets within the present.

Whilst the last century placed a huge emphasis on financial gain as the priority for growth at any cost, the next era of conscious businesses will not see profit as the enemy, but as something that will fuel the overall purpose that seeks to protect the planet and wellbeing of people.

We are ushering in a new era that will see conscious businesses seeking to generate profits without any damaging side effects or negative externalities that inevitably arise when businesses focus exclusively on securing profit. This will be driving challenge for businesses as we strive to work towards a more conscious future.