Responsible capitalism – a new model for business?

Starting in September 2013, the outdoor clothing and equipment company Patagonia is launching a two-year ‘responsible economy’ campaign which will challenge the very foundations of our current system, reported Jo Confino in the Guardian Sustainable Business Blog on 11 February 2013.

The aim of the ‘responsible economy’ campaign is to find new measures of success that do not depend on selling an ever increasing number of goods and services.

“We need to develop very different measures of success if we are to prevent environmental collapse,” says Vincent Stanley who has worked for the company since its inception and is the nephew of the company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard.

They would like to see a lot of people get together to discuss what a more responsible economy would look like — one that is not based upon consumption, and for this reason, Vincent Stanley and Yvon Chouinard co-authored the book ‘The Responsible Company’.


A second thought
Responsible capitalism. It reminds me of when Gandhi replied to a journalist that he thought ‘Western civilization’ would be a good idea.

The concept of ‘responsible capitalism’ is worth to give a second thought. Could we develop a new economic model somewhat like the current Scandinavian model, mixed with a little more focus on organic and CO2-neutral awareness?

Incorporating sustainability, both culturally and climatically, in a capitalist enterprise, shouldn’t actually be that hard – in our time you’d think it could be something a company could be branding itself with. (Danske Bank recently tried that with their ambitious ad-campaign, signaling carbon-consciousness, green economy, inclusiveness, and the rest, but failed big time because they tried to score some quick points they had not earned their credit for).

It would be crucial that it would be CONSUMERS who’d drive such ‘responsible capitalist companies’ forward and give them success with their products and sales figures – that it would be us consumers, because of the choice we make when we take products off the shelves in stores, who made accountability and responsibility into an important, competitive parameter, which eventually could completely redefine the market mechanisms and revolutionize the way commercial companies treat the Earth’s limited resources. But that is, of course, depending on that we the consumers should wake up and become aware of all this.

If someone back in the stone age had said to the hunters and gatherers that the simple idea of trusting each other would eventually turn the Nordic region into a world leader as the least corrupt and most equal society on the planet, it would probably not have been everyone at the time who would have believed in that. Sometimes a simple concept, a simple idea, can have a huge effect on society. All it takes is to see it.

Thumbs up to Patagonia for their ‘Responsible capitalism’ campaign. I think we need to give that one a thought.



Video interview (38 minutes):
Yvon Chouinard: The company as activist
Patagonia’s founder talks about authenticity, responsibility, and the power of your wallet to change society.




The Guardian Sustainable Business Blog – 11 February 2013:
Patagonia plans global campaign for responsible capitalism
The outdoor clothing and equipment company says we need to develop very different measures of success if we are to prevent environmental collapse


 

“It’s easy to mine the land and fish the seas and get rich. Yet we believe you cannot have a prosperous nation in the long run that does not conserve its natural environment or take care of the wellbeing of its people, which is being borne out by what is happening to the outside world.”
Thakur Singh Powdyel, Bhutan’s minister of education



Related to this topic


Washington Times – 20 March 2013:
Book review: ‘Conscious Capitalism’
What do Starbucks, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Amazon.com, UPS, Whole Foods Market and Costco have in common? They all practice “conscious capitalism.”


radioproject.org – 19 February 2013:
Putting the “Eco” Back into Economics – speech by David Suzuki




Putting the eco back into economics
Austalian Conservation Foundation launches the New Economics Advisory Service – respecting human wellbeing within a healthy environment.
Article on page 12 in Habitat Australia (PDF document)



Harvard Business Press Books – January 2013:
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business
By John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Review in Green Money Journal


Video recording: ‘The Responsible Company: Lessons From Patagonia’


Rich or prosperous

“It’s easy to mine the land and fish the seas and get rich. Yet we believe you cannot have a prosperous nation in the long run that does not conserve its natural environment or take care of the wellbeing of its people, which is being borne out by what is happening to the outside world.”
Thakur Singh Powdyel, Bhutan’s minister of education



New economics — for sustainability

New Economics Foundation is an independent “think-and-do tank” which works to create new ways of measuring progress towards increased well-being and environmental sustainability.

“Because we think people should be happy and the planet should be happy…”
New Economics Foundation

neweconomics.org


Eric Hobsbawm: The myth of “responsible capitalism”

Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm interviewed by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman on 19 January 2012:



Climate and Capitalism

The ‘ecosocialist’ journal Climate and Capitalism has many keywords and subjects, but it doesn’t have any on ‘Responsible capitalism’, though according to professor Patrick Bond, an advisory board member of several international journals, this journal is “the most reliable single source of information and strategic insights
 for climate justice.” Maybe yet to come? It has a long list on Capitalism.
climateandcapitalism.com



Sustainable Business Toolkit:
Doing well by doing good
It’s not sustainable business, it’s just good business



• Also related to reponsible capitalism: check my post about the ‘Happy Planet Index’




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