For over two centuries capitalism and the companies that people have formed under the free enterprise system have been on a journey. That journey has taken a legal entity, the corporation, from one that had typically been chartered for a specific purpose and/or period of time through to today where American companies enjoy the same rights and freedoms as the American citizens that lead them. Companies have become by legal definition… people.
There are challenges to this definition that have drawn criticism from many. A key critique is deciding who is responsible for the actions of the “person” if a company causes harm or breaks a law? For many cash rich corporations, paying fines to continue with business as usual has been considered a cost of doing business.
What if we look at this in a different light?
Like humans, most companies are not out to cause harm. Companies are simply groups of people, working cooperatively within a legal structure that allows them to provide products and services in return for compensation. Nothing more, or less.
Companies are people and us as people working cooperatively form companies.
A growing trend in business and especially in Conscious Capitalism is to bring human consciousness into business consciousness. To treat each stakeholder as we would expect to be treated ourselves. Recent shifts in advertising are an observable example where according to AdAge’s Rupal Parekh, The Newest Marketing Buzzword? [is] Human and that we are entering the Human Era for Brands.
Utilizing a brand platform around being human or humanity extends to social media and how the brand speaks to its consumers on Facebook, Twitter and other networks. Another key part of being a human brand is suggesting that you make mistakes.
This new shift in advertising should have a dramatic effect on how companies communicate with consumers and interact with all stakeholders. No longer are brands able to separate employee, environmental, and sustainability practices from their marketing messages. As it continues to mature, social media will increasingly supplant government regulation in ensuring that brands “walk the talk” and are acting ethically when relating to how they conduct business.
While it has taken over two centuries for companies to evolve into people, I believe that great corporate citizens committed to the ideals of Conscious Capitalism and free enterprise will push the human race further ahead, faster than any other available social structure.
After pushing for the rights and freedoms that companies enjoy today under our Constitution it only seems natural that the next profitable and positive step to take, is that companies will continue to consciously take on some of the great responsibilities of people.
To borrow from the theme of Margaret Mead’s famous quote on the great potential of a small group of committed people…
“Never doubt a cooperative group who form a company committed to changing the world. Indeed it is the most scalable thing that ever has.” – Vinny Tafuro