Conscious Business, Better Business All Around
By Sylvia Binsfeld
There is a new way of doing business that is emerging and it brings us hope. We are talking about Conscious Business, where those in charge put genuine value into more than strictly their profits...though their profits are generally excellent! These companies and corporations such as Patagonia, Ritter Sport, Seventh Generation, and numerous others are run by people who see past the almighty dollar and understand what it means to participate in the entwined web of life. They comprehend that all that exists is connected and that everything we do affects the whole, which they are part of.
Once we understand this connection, our awareness around the deeper meaning of our lives is raised, putting us in the position to live more meaningfully and responsibly based on this awareness. We especially need those who run the corporations to wake-up, as corporate power and its impact is great.
I founded the conscious media movement to help raise global consciousness. We ask filmmakers of all genres to harness the incredible power of story to uplift society and share information that can help galvanize a positive change in the behaviors and values in society, that have put our world in jeopardy. Because, what we do next will determine whether or not humanity survives.
I am ready to grow the Conscious Media Movement, and plan to build various departments to help both raise filmmaker awareness and help them in initiating this shift through their stories. So much media still glorifies our lowest qualities. The films and stories we absorb daily have a great influence on our psyche. One of the benefits that conscious films and stories can bring is their ability to promote the best in humanity again and also to reveal where there are problems, and we can’t only rely only on documentaries for this purpose. They tend to attract audiences that are already seeking the truth. The people who need to wake-up the most don’t watch them. We need all genres to cross-over to conscious media making, so these films outnumber the damaging ones.
A side note: While researching for this article, I was scanning through documentary and narrative films to see if any were made with the central theme focused on conscious business. What I was surprised to find, where several documentary style films that were disguised as being about conscious businesses, but were not. They positioned companies with poor business practices in extremely positive light, using our key words....“consciousness” and “awareness” etc., but these films mislead. It’s possible that they were funded by those who would stand to lose some of their abundant profits if the world started asking for conscious corporate business practices. So, be aware that there are faux conscious business films out there. Do a little research before tuning in.
The value of shining a spotlight and bringing conscious businesses to our awareness can’t be overstated. Even in a genre such as a romantic comedy...just have the model of a conscious business interwoven in with the story. The influence of corporations on our quality of life and the environment is substantial. Materialism...the material-gain-at-all-costs attitude is often venerated in films. It’s a form of brainwashing and it needs to stop, so we can focus on goals of true value.
What is a genuinely conscious business? First, let’s start with what it is not, because the actions of numerous corporations are pushing us over the edge environmentally while simultaneously removing much of our middle class. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter much if these corporations make a few very public donations to causes, if they don’t pay their taxes, refusing to circulate some of their massive profits back into bettering the world...and what good does a donation do, if they aren’t paying their own employees fair living wages, or if they pollute the planet...all while taking home in their own paycheck more money than they can spend in a lifetime? This way of doing business causes suffering.
Since this blog is geared towards media makers, one of the most potent shifts in perception we can create is what character traits we admire in people. Too often the self-serving movers and shakers, who strive to get ahead at all costs are depicted as sexy, exciting and intelligent. I beg to differ. There are several different types of “intelligence”. There is the book smarts..there is the type where mathematical, technological, business building strategy comes easy to them, but when they don’t posses an ounce of life wisdom are they really all that bright? These are the individuals who build companies without thinking about the people whose labor they have built the company on, or the environmental consequences they are creating for the world we are all depending on for life. This is not the person/ mindset to exalt in our films. Wisdom is above intellect. We need to shift what/who we admire, support and how we present them in film. Wisdom comes with a conscience, compassion, empathy, a sense of connection, and solutions that can now save our planet.
CEOs at companies like Patagonia are speaking up about the unfair ways in which the world is run. Appalled when corporations received an additional, unjustifiable corporate tax cut in 2018, they donated every cent of the money they got back. We do have corporate leaders to respect and revere in film. This article explains the actions they took. I should mention that there is a comment in the piece by Trump where he claimed that our planet was the cleanest it has ever been while he was simultaneously deregulating environment protection. That’s absurd, we have been feeling the impact of climate change already. It has become overwhelming how many lies we are exposed to in the media. Hopefully the conscious media movement can produce a positive change there as well.
Another attribute about Patagonia that I admire is that it is a B-Corp, which is described this way on the B-Corporation.net website. “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. ... B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.” Using business as a force for good. I like the way that sounds. This is in sharp contrast to how most corporations do business.
Seventh Generation is likewise a B-Corp. Their name reflects their mission statement, that they are on a mission to transform the world into a healthy, sustainable, equitable place for the next 7 generations. Again, I feel hope. And, these businesses are still prosperous, even with adding the welfare of their workers, humanity, and the planet onto their priority list.
The company heads at Ritter Sport, a German company, have honored their mission statement, to make the protection of natural resources one of their greatest priorities. What have they achieved so far? Well, they planted their own cocoa plantation in an agroforestry system so they wouldn’t need to damage the rain forest with the goal of becoming 100% sustainable by 2025. Article Their workers on this plantation are paid a fair salary, and also provided social and medical services for themselves and their families! I read recently however, that they exceeded their expectations and achieved that 2025 target date several years early. Ritter Sport became the first major chocolate bar manufacturer to source certified sustainable cocoa for its entire assortment, in 2018 already. Ritter Sport also aims to achieve CO-2 neutral production by 2022. That is next year!
This all reminds me very much of what we can achieve with circular agriculture...something that my niece is studying. Circular agriculture similarly works with nature rather than against it. This conscious, sustainable form of food production would even solve our methane gas problem from meat production! More people need to be aware that there are solutions, so we can push for logical and wise ways of working around farming and product production while healing our planet. Article
These types of business models are just a small sampling of intelligent, wise, business practices, ensouled with a conscience. They are proof of what is possible. These are our heroes and role models the rest of the corporations and businesses can use to fashion themselves after, if we are to survive as a species. It is unconscionable to do otherwise when there is still a chance to turn this around for the next generations.
Money talks. Consumer demand can help shift corporate behavior and as conscious storytellers, we can create a shift in the lens of perception of both the corporate leaders and the consumers with our films, of all genes, and help light the way.