Understanding Conscious Business–with Richi Gil

Perhaps you’ve noticed a slight twist in topic, unfamiliar terms and different companies referenced in recent posts. I’ve become  enthralled by the concept of conscious business, which I view as an extension of cause capitalism to include organizational culture and structure, leadership, and communication. I’ve always explained cause capitalism as the merger of business and social mission, and I see conscious business as the confluence between business and values (of employees, consumers, suppliers, community).

In thinking about the benefits of a conscious business I realized that they are identical to what I’ve written about before. So while the intent of this site and my work remains unchanged, I’ll introduce new tactics and principles aimed at creating a financially profitable company rooted in humanistic values.

After meeting Richi Gil at the Conscious Capitalism Conference I invited him to talk about what the concept conscious business means to him and how his firm, Axialent, helps transform companies into conscious businesses. As the Managing Director and Chief Culture Officer at Axialent, Richi works with senior leaders and their teams to help significantly improve personal and organizational performance. In his role of chief culture officer, he helps clients develop the behaviors, symbols and systems to support business strategy.

I highlighted some key takeaways from our interview below, but the full value of Richi’s nuanced thoughts and demeanor (as well as how Axialent helped to transform a 100k-employee multinational company) is best captured by listening to the audio. Right-click to download the interview.

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  • I was curious how Richi responds to the cocktail question “What do you do?”. He explains his job as working with the “human dimension” of business, helping to build conscious teams, leaders, and cultures.
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  • Richi defines conscious capitalism as a body of philosophical principles, tools, and behaviors. I’ll dive into each of these elements in subsequent posts.
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  • Policies and norms within a company are “artifacts” of the consciousness of the people who design them, so if you have conscious people, you’ll naturally have progressive, innovative and supportive policies. I love this metaphor of policies as “artifacts” of the culture. A classic example is Patagonia’s liberal leave policy that allows employees to take off for afternoon surfing, bike rides and runs.

You can read more on conscious capitalism on Axialent’s blog and follow the company on Twitter at @Axialent.

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4 Comments

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  1. Maria Degrassi October 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Thank you very much for your work! I’m a 21 years old student and I’ve found this blog very motivational!
    I really think that with conscious business we can change the world!

  2. Olivia Khalili October 7, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Maria,

    It’s wonderful to hear. I’m with you that conscious business can have a tremendous impact on markets and people. I look forward to staying in touch.

    Olivia

  3. Jeff Mowatt (@peoplecentred) December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Olivia, I’ve had a number of conversations on the Conscious Capitalism group on Linkedin and so far, I’ve seen only rhetorical consciousness.

    I offer an example of business, neither cause or conscious, which takes on a human rights issue, organised crime and our own governments.

    http://wp.me/pvNZ7-uO

    Regards,

    Jeff

  4. Olivia Khalili December 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing these examples. Given what you’ve experienced, what are your suggestions for moving beyond rhetoric?

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