The greed-driven economy and Conscious Capitalism

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Screen Shot 2015 11 013This is an Issue 

Scrolling through my “X” (aka Twitter) and Facebook feeds, I’ve been reading a lot of posts of people commenting about how everything has gone up, especially within the last two or so years, but that individual salaries haven’t gone up. This of course is something that we hear about a lot – cost of living rising but not salaries, at least not at a pace to counter the cost of living increases, and many people do not get an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). 

Reading about this as well as personally experiencing the pressures of a significantly rising cost of living, I decided to research a little more. I have always been a Capitalist at heart. I believe that people can make as much money as they want and spend their money however they want. However, I am a people-first person and believe that business owners need to be more employee-centric because, let’s face it, without employees most businesses would cease to exist. Employees need to be recognized for their contributions. There is a fine line between profit and greed, one that employers need to recognize. 

This isn’t an article about “us versus them,” nor do I believe that this issue needs a Republican or Democrat solution. What I believe needs to happen is that people need to look at the value of others and realize that the further away from compassion for others that we get, the more of an uncaring, “profits no matter the cost” society we become. I for one do not want any part of that.

Costs, but not salaries, are on the rise

As many of us have experienced, the cost of everything has risen – and continues to rise. According to salary.com, the cost of living in Manchester has increased by an average 1.4%. The greatest increases were found in transportation, food, and housing…in other words, basic necessities. Salaries, on the other hand, have decreased by 1.9% just in the second quarter of 2023, (April 1st through June 30th). So basically, according to the statistics, on average a worker is behind by 0.5%. This seems low – and probably is for many – but it is an average. For many, the salaries are a lot further behind, mostly because of the cost of housing. In fact, for many people that I speak with, housing increases alone are in the double digits. 

Making money on the backs of employees is pure greed Brian Chicoine file
Making money on the backs of employees is pure greed,

How do we solve this issue?   

As I’ve said, I believe that business owners can make as much money as they want and spend it how they want. I also do not believe that the government should regulate how much people make nor do I think that they should dictate how we spend money. But I wholeheartedly disagree with people who say that the market will correct this because – as we’ve clearly seen and have experienced even before this latest economic dumpster fire – that it will not. 

Maybe our free enterprise capitalist system was intended to both reward capitalist ventures and prevent others from being crushed with rising expenses, but then a little thing called greed took over. There is a fair market, then there is greed, (aka do what needs to be done to make a buck even if at the expense of those who helped you get where you are…the employee). I don’t have a problem with pure capitalism…I have a problem with greedy business owners who enjoy the spoils of their venture, (e.g. having multiple houses – maybe a waterfront home – multiple high-end vehicles, lavish vacations, and “business lunches” while the employees either get minimum wage or low wages, little to no benefits or paid time off, and maybe on public assistance because they cannot afford the basics). This is a lot less extreme or fictional as some believe. I sound liberal here, but I am not. I just believe in people…I am employee-centric. If that is what you call liberal, then whatever. 

Conscious Capitalism logo Brian Chicoine fileThere is hope…Conscious Capitalism 

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded by the co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, and marketing professor Raj Sisodia. Conscious Capitalism is a more holistic approach that provides financial wealth to stakeholders, as well as intellectual, ecological, cultural, emotional and social wealth. Conscious capitalism focuses on people and the environment. 

The “Four Tenets of Conscious Capitalism” are:

  1. Higher Purpose 
  2. Stakeholder Orientation
  3. Conscious Leadership 
  4. Conscious Culture 

Those who lead organizations that practice conscious capitalism techniques are employee-centric and may reap some benefits of the model, which include better relationships between customers and employees, brand-loyal customers who are attracted to a strong mission, and more intentional community engagement by a business.

Conscious Capitalism is not only an organization, but a way of living and a way of doing business. It is more than just being a “nice employer,” it is truly believing and buying into the philosophy of people before profits. 

The credo of Conscious Capitalism is: “We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.” That says it all. 

Conscious Capitalism will not take away all the greed in society, or will it change things overnight. But it is a model that we can promote and look for when applying for jobs and when being consumers. 

Employees should be treated as equals Brian Chicoine file
Employees should be treated as equals.

Conclusion 

Before ending, I want to share a few well-known companies that are part of the Conscious Capitalism movement so that you can see first-hand how the employees are treated. Companies that are part of the movement include Whole Foods Market, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Ben & Jerry’s, and the Container Store. More information about Conscious Capitalism can be found by clicking here. If you’d like to get involved, there is a chapter in Boston. More information on the Boston chapter can be found here.  

As always, feel free to email me with comments at bchicoinemht@gmail.com.


 

 

About this Author

Brian Chicoine

Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980. While a student at Notre Dame College here in Manchester, Brian transferred to Rhode Island College in Providence, where he met his now wife, Jackie. Brian and Jackie spent the next 20 years living in Providence and Manchester, returning to Manchester with their two sons, (who are proud Manchester natives), in the fall of 2017. He and his family intend on staying in Manchester and are committed to helping make it an even better place to live, work, and play.