Corporate consciousness in the Netherlands
Social and environmental concerns are leading to a new consciousness in the Dutch workplace as a new dynamic replaces the traditional profit-driven focus.
In the 21st century, many companies are in transition. As corporate scandals and a mistrustful public compel businesses to demonstrate ethics, trust and integrity, companies are responding by taking a new position in how they do business.
A new set of values is starting to emerge in the business world
Instead, they are looking toward an ethics and value-based ideology which demonstrates a conscience in how they do business, both internally and externally.
Studies are showing, time and time again, that this is good for business.
What is corporate consciousness?
Corporate consciousness is the awareness within an organisation of the direct connection between taking care of all parties touched by it (employees, customers, stockholders, vendors, the environment and society) and the firm's profitability.
It is sometimes called 'the triple bottom line' because it takes into account the ethical and moral interests of the people (both within and outside the organisation), the welfare of the planet and the profits of the company, through an active focus on social responsibility.
Enlightened leaders, fulfilled employees
As Patricia Aburdene argues in her book Megatrends 2010, The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, highly successful business leaders at all levels are using a variety of consciousness transforming practices and encouraging their colleagues to affirm socially responsible values at work.
As more people turn inward to embrace spirituality and less selfish values, leading-edge companies have discovered that adopting social and environmental values can actually enhance profits and productivity.
Wealth creation in itself is no longer the ultimate goal; it is simply the means to sustain the company and to increase its ability to serve.
Enlightened leaders show by example that service to others and for the greatest good is better for business than big egos and over-inflated salaries.
The well-being of the people within the organisation then becomes of paramount importance. When the employees understand that the company operates from a position of integrity, with purpose and for the greater good, they will feel safer and be more fulfilled in their working lives.
If they are allowed to develop themselves personally, professionally and spiritually and to contribute to society on behalf of the company, they will naturally be more loyal and productive for the good of that company.
Corporate consciousness also applies to reaching out to those in need outside of the organisation. Unlike companies which only focus on the bottom line and ask: "What is in it for us?", these consciously-aware companies ask: "What is for the greatest good? How can we make a profit and still reach out to our fellow humans?"
The Schiphol Airport-based Numico, an international food company specialising in baby food, has a strong commitment to the triple bottom line with regards to employees, social responsibility and environmental protection.
For example, staff organised a fund-raising drive to help the victims of the Tsunami in South Asia and raised nearly EUR 1 million.
The company's website states that their charitable efforts in the future will support the orphaned children of the world.
The act of giving provides an added sense of purpose and meaning to the employees, promoting greater job satisfaction and enhancing productivity.
ABB is another example of a global company that puts the triple bottom line approach into action.
Its sustainability policies aim to contribute to economic growth, environmental stewardship and societal development.
ABB complies with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which was established to develop, promote and disseminate a generally accepted framework for sustainability reporting — voluntary reporting on the economic, environmental, and social performance of corporations and other organisations.
For more information, see www.globalreporting.org.
In many of these initiatives, environmental concerns are high on the priority list.
The obvious environmental problems such as ozone depletion, destruction of the rainforests and melting of the polar ice caps will have an effect on the world, probably during our lifetime.
Fortunately, these frontrunner companies see that the old philosophy from the 1980s and 1990s of wealth creation at all costs and with no regard for the social and environmental impact has been unjust, destructive and unsustainable.
Starbucks Coffee has partnered with Conservation International to work with its farmers/suppliers in Mexico to promote water and soil conservation and to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Its C.A.F.E. program was designed to ensure that high quality coffee is grown and processed with environmental sensitivity and social equity throughout the coffee supply chain.
Philips, based in Amsterdam, states in its 2005 Sustainability Report that it has several ongoing pilot projects called New Sustainable Business Initiatives (NSBIs) that will create products for third world countries.
One of these products is a wood burning stove that reduces smoke and toxic emissions.
Designed for cooking in developing countries, the stove could benefit up to 300 million families in the world's poorest regions and help reduce the smoke-related diseases that lead to some 1.6 million deaths each year.
Used properly, the woodstove reduces fuel consumption by up to 80 percent and generates electricity, which can power external equipment such as lighting or radios. For more information visit www.philips.com/about/sustainability.
Corporate consciousness is present in many profit-making companies in the Netherlands and around the world.
What the long-term effects of these initiatives will be is not clear, but one can only hope that, taken together, all these efforts will make a significant contribution to a better world.
But there is still much to be done and there are still many companies that could benefit from adopting a wider perspective that shows that doing good can also be good business.
11 January 2007
Barbara Rogoski is a professional speaker, writer and teacher on the topics of Corporate Consciousness and Spirituality in Business through her company Authentic Matters. For more information, email: email@example.com.
[Copyright Expatica + Barbara Rogoski]
Subject: corporate cosciousness, social and environmental concerns