Conscious Capitalism in Michigan

Upon moving our truck load of stuff into our new house in Petoskey last weekend, a recycling tote was delivered. Have you received yours from Emmet County Recycling? They were made at Cascade Engineering, outside of Grand Rapids. This company, along with a handful of others in Michigan, is implementing some of the Conscious Capitalism practices that Nathan Havey discussed at North Central Michigan College on June 14. Cascade Engineering has a higher purpose — to lower the recidivis rate by hiring candidates with felonies and training them for the job. Here’s a link to their program about hiring ex-offenders. 

The Conscious Capitalism event was an inspiring and eye opening event. I’m so proud that our Petoskey Chamber is one of the early adopters of this model, one that sees the employee as a whole person. Nathan Havey's statistics showed that around 70% of employees are disengaged, and 1 in 5 people are ACTIVELY disengaged. In other words, they’re sabotaging an organization’s efforts. When employees are engaged, it is reflected in the organization’s productivity and bottom line, and both the organization and employee benefit.

I was struck by the snippets Nathan Havey shared from Firms of Endearment, one of the books recommended by Thrive Consulting. The book highlights firms that, despite very low marketing budgets and outreach, are deeply loved by consumers and the general public. How do they do it? They speak to a higher purpose and treat their employees well. They speak to a need that consumers have — a strong sense of social purpose. This is becoming even more the case, as millennials, especially, respond to this model.

As the Thrive Consulting website says, “If you share what you are honestly trying to achieve, people will feel for you. When we feel for something, we often go out of our way to support it…Profit is not the purpose of business just like electricity is not the purpose of a computer. You have to have enough of it to make the thing work, but the purpose lies in what you can do with it. 

Michael McFall from Bigby Coffee, a company that has been implementing new strategies around this idea for a couple of years now, incorporated a new company slogan to reflect this shift in priority. Bigby articulates it as, “unlock yourself and be.” The whole idea is that there is a higher purpose to our work and how we spend our time as employees. That we don’t leave our personal stuff at the door, but we’re treated as whole humans and have input that affects organizational decision-making. And guess what? It happens to gain profit for the company too. In the case of the Firms of Endearment, it shows a 14 to 1 gain. 

-Jen Schaap

Christa Rensel