Conscious Business: Shared Success, Shared Responsibility

This is the first in a series of pieces exploring Conscious Business.

A few years ago, the term Conscious Business seemed on the fringe of mainstream business language. The mere idea of a ‘conscious business’ seemed a contradiction in terms. Consciousness, at home in the spiritual realm, and business, squarely situated in the material world – how could they possibly mix? A few changing realities–the quickening pace of environmental destruction, a growing awareness of economic inequality and systemic racism, and a global pandemic’s reminder of the fragility of life–have changed that way of thinking. Twenty years ago, I was one of a few founding members of the first Spirit in Business conference. Now, as the idea of conscious business is swiftly going mainstream, this general awakening feels like both a vindication and a homecoming.

But do we actually know what conscious business means? While a body of content already exists on the subject, much of it is abstract in nature. Since the work I do is to support business growth through expanding consciousness, it is important for me to develop a useful – and tangible – way to talk about that work. I find it easier to explain new ideas by explaining what gave birth to them. 

The idea of conscious business arose because so much of business had become unconscious.   By that, I mean that many businesses are unaware of or uncaring about the impact of their operations and practices. We, as consumers, take for granted the shared economy that both enables a business to function and experiences the effects of its activities. Amazon and similar big businesses exist because taxpayers pay for the education system, the supply chain infrastructure, the airwaves, and other things that allow a large company to operate. Amazon reported 35 billion in pre-tax revenue in 2021–yet was taxed at a federal income tax rate of only 6%. In that same year, Amazon produced 709 million pounds of waste, up by almost 30% from the previous year.

Very few governments require a business to be responsible for the harmful byproducts, or externalities, of its operations. This is because the core belief system of Capitalism does not demand businesses be accountable for their impact. Of course, there are also huge benefits that businesses like Amazon offer society–like  providing reliable, competitively priced, and widely available products to people who may otherwise not have access to them. Nevertheless, the reason the idea of a conscious business even exists is that the negative effects of big business–like climate change, economic inequality, and other collateral damage–have reached the point where the continuation of our civilization is at risk. Enter the conscious business concept of shared success and shared responsibility.

The owners and key stakeholders of a conscious business are aware of and sensitive to, the circumstances that allow them to function and of the effect of their endeavors on the world. Conscious leaders like myself believe that all of life is precious and interdependent. We live in an ecosystem that depends on cooperation and a belief in acting for the greater good. Patagonia, to use an example recently in the news, shares that among its core values is to not only “do less harm, but more good.” They are committed financially and ethically to minimizing their impact on the environment, and to protecting resources for future generations. This commitment to doing good extends to their employees, 88% of whom report the company is fulfilling its mission on a daily basis. You can learn more about companies that have strong social and environmental values through B Lab.

As the owner of Opportunity Lab, I understand that our success depends on an interdependent community. Each person on our team is critical to our functioning. Each one of us is dependent on an ecosystem of relationships, resources, and the  world that surrounds us. As a company, we are able to do our work because of the many factors of a shared economy that I mentioned earlier: the infrastructure of the supply chain, the educational system, and much, much more.

Our version of a conscious business begins with the values of gratitude, collaboration, and learning. We are grateful that we can contribute our talents and resources to serve organizations and people we believe in. We choose clients who care deeply about their customers, their associates, and the communities they do business in. We support their growth because their businesses contribute to a fairer, safer, more inclusive, and more sustainable world. We offer that support by co-creating a strategy for sustainable growth with a caring leadership and nurturing culture at its core. In our Opportunity Lab team, we strive to create a space where everyone feels safe, respected, and seen. We do our best to share the financial career and social benefits of the business we are in.

If you’d like to talk more about how your business can be truly conscious, drop us a line at It’s our favorite subject, and the more conversations we start the more change we can create.

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​Culture of Opportunity: How to Grow Your Business in an Age of Disruption

By Mark Monchek

A compact manifesto that will show you how to thrive in the new world of business.

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