I recently interviewed James White, a lifelong “conscious capitalist,” even before that term was invented.
For decades, he has been on the forefront of focusing on the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profits. And because I am a writer and editor involved with the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement, I have started blogging for the group.
Yes, I have worked with and for nonprofits since childhood, because they focus on social change and making the world a better place for all.
But in the past few decades we have seen the phenomenal growth of for-profit entities that also seek the Triple Bottom Line: social mission businesses, social enterprises, green businesses, purpose-driven business, etc. In fact, I just attended Sustainatopia, a large international conference along those same lines.
I am thrilled to see the vast shift in today’s businesses world, as it adapts to the demands of people like you and me. We’re insisting on doing business as UNusual — that is, for the benefit of humanity and the environment. No longer is the nonprofit world the only place to participate in this work.
My first blog post for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement is a good place to begin to explore this world.
The article starts out like this:
“Conscious capitalism to me is mission- or purpose-driven capitalism. We’re talking about more intentional businesses.”
James White knows what he’s talking about. For his entire career, spanning over 30 years, he has lived and breathed conscious capitalism: whether or not that specific term has ever come up. He has always focused on a common set of principles.
“The companies that I’ve been most attracted to have always been active participants in their local communities. They also found ways to enrich career and learning opportunities for the employee base.”
Over time, White noticed an evolution of sorts. “The big accelerator for me in the last decade,” he said, “was my exposure to the organic and sustainable food industry. There is a really high prevalence of [a purpose-driven orientation] in food companies that live in this space.”
This understanding led White to his most recent CEO position with Jamba Juice, from which he retired at the end of 2015.