'Conscious Capitalism' – Lessons for mobility?

There was a mood of change at the 2016 EuRA conference, with signs that destination services providers were preparing themselves for the new world ahead, says Fiona Murchie.

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At this year’s European Relocation Association (EuRA) conference, a fascinating session on 'Conscious Capitalism' shed light on this relatively new approach to business, which is beginning to impact on mainstream organisations – the type of multinationals that many of the EuRA audience may be supporting with relocation services in the not-too-distant future.The session was led by Elisha French, of CEEYANA, who specialises in change, engagement and women’s development, and Dr Anne Copeland, of the Interchange Institute, a clinical psychologist.As Elisha French explained, the four principles of Conscious Capitalism are:
  • Higher purpose
  • Conscious culture
  • Stakeholder integration
  • Conscious leadership
If you are able to align with these four principles, you are more likely to have engaged employees who do the right thing. Ms French pointed out that there were too many people in society who were left behind and left out.“Businesses need to recognise that they need to serve, need to be responsive and responsible,” she said. “Take courageous commitment for change. Business as usual is not going to serve us, as society and individuals, any more. We have a better sense of what justice and fairness is than ever before.”Elisha French went on to give examples of corruption from across the globe, in government, in companies and institutions, and across sport, from football to the Olympics and cycling, as well as highlighting the spontaneous outcry from the public. She cited the scandal at Volkswagen, where the company had lost a quarter of its value through unethical behaviour, as an example that had impacted the motor industry.There was, said Ms French, firm evidence that, in the West, “we want to live conscious, authentic lives. You can be in touch with the farmer that delivers your food; we love wholefoods and natural cosmetics. Yoga studios are thriving. Now, lots of people use a coach – they want more mindful, conscious lives.”So for a business to flourish, she concluded, it needs to provide for more conscious lives in response to the growing numbers of employees wanting to live and work in this way.

Creating a winning culture

The session was given over to explaining processes that allow you to do the best you can, in the business context and as an individual.This begins with ‘higher purpose’. Elisha French suggested starting by considering why you get up in the morning and what is important to you.At work, many people want to improve lives and the world; money isn’t their main motivation. As Simon Sinek put it in his book Start with Why, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and what you do simply proves what you believe.”The second ingredient for success, Elisha French explained, was to create a ‘conscious culture’. What is your culture? Is it about greed and quick wins, or is it more about looking after the planet and people?Dr Anne Copeland continued the presentation by explaining that culture was the life force of a company, posing the challenge ‘how aware are you of yours?’ She went on to describe some companies with great cultures. There seemed to be common threads, such as working from the heart, trust, transparency and openness, integrity and loyalty, and a sense of equality.In terms of management, ‘stakeholder integration’ summed up the approach adopted by Conscious Capital organisations as they focus on the best outcomes for all stakeholders. If the culture is just about money, it will kill creativity and innovation, Anne Copeland suggested. Rather than settling for the cheapest suppliers, invest in your partners.Dr Copeland quoted from the 2012 Edelman Good Purpose Study, which said that 76 per cent of respondents believed it was acceptable to support good causes and make money at same time. When cost and brand are equal, purpose wins out.The book Firms of Endearment: How World-class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jagdish N Sheth and David Wolfe, reveals that Conscious Capital companies outperform others by a factor of ten.As Anne Copeland pointed out, “In terms of profit, now we really are talking. They aren’t settling for cheapest suppliers. Invest in quality and innovation and you will ‘win win’ together. Invest in well-paid, respected staff, because if you get engaged and committed employees, they will want to work more. Retention is good.”As an industry supporting corporate clients, who measure success by the retention of the staff they relocate, there is surely a double incentive for relocation management companies (RMCs) and destination services providers (DSPs) to conduct business in this way.

Nurturing relationships

Anne Copeland went on to say, “Sales and marketing cost is lower for Conscious Capital companies, because fans do a lot of the work.” She encouraged her audience to obtain testimonials and statistics to back up how their approach works.Soft skills are important, she confirmed, because they shape an organisation and define its DNA. As she put it, “Like attracts like, and good attracts good.”The final piece in the jigsaw is ‘conscious leadership’. This is a leadership style that reflects what you stand for. It is about relationships. Can you encourage and support your team to amaze themselves and suppliers? Are you able to find meaning for stakeholders and build relationships from the heart?The key, as ever, is to set clear, purposeful goals and make steady progress, not forgetting the extra ingredient of this potent cocktail for success, “to be happy and do the right thing”.Dr Copeland’s final reason for this approach was, “Profit is not the primary cause; let your business be the cause. Let your business be a force for good.”At a lively Ignite Session, Conscious Capitalism and Me, later the same day, this was exhibited powerfully by delegate presenters, who spoke with passion about their success in fundraising and corporate and social responsibility activities that validated this approach.The session was facilitated by Ghadeer Hassan, of Cort Business Services, who offered a lively, culturally aware approach that would go down well with many of the international corporate organisations the delegate audience serves. The presenters ranged from a global removals company to a destination services provider, and – perhaps most moving of all – the millennial star of the show, who truly embodied hope for the future.

Preparing for the future

Of course, it is unrealistic to think that relocation management companies, DSPs, and the raft of suppliers across the mobility industry can switch to a Conscious Capital approach overnight – indeed, they may not wish to – but it was good to see strides towards understanding the influences of different business models and leadership approaches in a sector that has to deal with change for its clients on a daily basis.Meeting KPIs and the requirement for greater value while being squeezed on many fronts – by cost cutting, technology, social and political trends, compliance, and safety and security – is inevitably a challenge.Behind the gloss of the fabulous Hilton conference venue in Malta and the frenetic networking is an industry sector that is being forced to evolve into something else. Inevitably, there will be winners and losers, but judging from the many signs of innovation and creativity that were showcased by EuRA members’ entries for this year’s Re:locate Awards, there are plenty of players more than ready to take on the challenges of fast-moving global markets. People had travelled a long way to attend the conference. Business contacts are important, and relationships forged here can be the lifeblood of many of the small businesses participating in this annual trade event. But the stark reality is that the global mobility world is changing, as I have reported before and reiterated at the recent Re:locate Awards gala dinner, and as we see from new research by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council and EuRA, which was launched at the conference.The relocation management companies come to the EuRA conference to brief their suppliers on their developments and to recruit the rising stars in the relocation network, but they are intensely aware of their corporate clients’ drivers, which include cost cutting and response to the latest compliance dictates, regionally, globally and locally.The concept of more value for less is being driven from the top. The previous day’s interactive session reflected the willingness to engage with the RMCs, and to try and work with them to provide solutions.

Look out for more coverage of the EuRA conference in Malta, in the Summer 2016 issue of Re:locate magazine.

See the winners of the Re:locate Awards 2015/16, relocation and global mobility's premier awards, in our special highlights video here:

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