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Delivering value to all stakeholders is one of the four pillars of Conscious Capitalism. This requires a shift from a singular focus on any one stakeholder group at the exclusion of others (such as the shareholder/investor or the customer) to a commitment to live out purpose and values for each stakeholder. In this pursuit, one stakeholder we often overlook is the community.

Like fish swimming unconsciously in water (water – what water?), we can be blind to the community (or communities) we impact. Starting almost 40 years ago, organizations began to undertake efforts in the realm of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) – structuring intentional efforts to give back to the community and protect the environment. This frequently manifested itself as “bolt-on” programming separated from the company’s primary business. In the last decade or two, we’ve seen the rise of the B-Corp (Benefit Corporation) and Social Enterprise, movements to formalize businesses with a distinct purpose to better the world we live in.

What about the other 95% (I made that number up) of the capitalist enterprises out there? How can they impact their communities by fulfilling their core purpose and what are the possibilities? On Tuesday, January 19, we had a chapter forum inviting members to explore this question. As business becomes more conscious, what might be the impacts on the external community (Chicagoland in our case) and the internal community (organizational work environments)?

We surfaced a wide range of results – from people being happier and more fulfilled to better business results to reduced crime and litter. We envisioned improvements in traffic as people opened up to “giving way to each other”. We saw higher levels of engagement, both at work as well as in families and the community. More public art. Reduced boundaries among business, the community and education with greater collaboration. Reduced income gap… and more.

This inquiry will continue throughout our chapter events in 2016. We’ll share more detailed results from Tuesday’s session on this site and weave its themes through our speakers, panels and forums. Join us in the conversation.

Who is your community and how can you impact it through your business?

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