Forget compassionate capitalism, just some fairness will do
Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich could have ended up being the usual rant against the excesses of capitalism and capitalists. Osvald Bjelland founded and runs Xynteo, an Oslo-based consulting firm that advises companies on how doing good for society can be good for their bottom lines as well. As a serial entrepreneur who sold an earlier start-up to Citibank, it does sound strange for him to be critical of the capitalist system. Finally, over the weekend, N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, one of India’s most influential entrepreneurs and a poster boy for how capitalism can spawn a thousand millionaires, led some of the company’s founders in abstaining from voting in favour of a board proposal to hike the salary of the company’s chief operating officer U.B. Pravin Rao by 35% to Rs12.5 crore. Murthy later clarified that the decision stemmed from their belief in compassionate capitalism and his remarks may well serve as a caution for companies not just in India but beyond as well: “I have always felt that every senior management person of an Indian corporation has to show self-restraint in his or her compensation and perquisites. This is necessary if we have to make compassionate capitalism acceptable to a majority of Indians who are poor. Without compassionate capitalism, this country cannot create jobs and solve the problem of poverty.” Reich is even more critical of the system that served the US and most of Western society for well over a century. “The threat to capitalism is no longer communism or fascism but a steady undermining of the trust modern societies need for growth and stability,” he writes. Before the current round of hand-wringing against capitalism took wing, the system did deliver incredible growth to all those countries that adopted Adam Smith’s laissez faire doctrine. In a country like India where for centuries, two meals a day was the ambition of millions, today people demand a share of the wealth they are helping create for the companies they work in. Now as more and more of those who may have been its biggest beneficiaries declare that it is broken, the need to fix it, is acquiring urgency. Perhaps it is too much to expect compassion from a system that is inherently Darwinian. We will settle for a fairer and more just arrangement.
Can compassionate capitalists really win?
Raj Sisodia, head of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, believes companies that focus on the bottom line, instead of on employees’ needs, will fall behind. After years of layoffs, cutbacks, and closures in the corporate sector, it’s hard to imagine that any competitive American company really puts the needs of its employees before its profits. Born in India, Sisodia was educated there and at Columbia University in New York, where he received his PhD, and he’s currently professor of marketing at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. In May, Bentley will host the third annual international conference sponsored by the Conscious Capitalism Institute, of which Sisodia is chairman and co-founder. Conscious Capitalism is defined by four characteristics. The third element is conscious leadership, which is driven by purpose and by service to people, and not by power or by personal enrichment. The fourth is a conscious culture, which really embodies all of these elements: trust, caring, compassion, and authenticity. Those two CEOs said first of all, “We are not going to lay off anybody. That’s number one. Second, we are going to protect the weakest within the system, which are the part-time workers. They will not be asked to take any kind of pay cut, any kind of benefit deduction, or even reduction in their hours, because they are the most vulnerable in the system. And then all the salaried people will take an across-the-board pay freeze, or even a pay reduction.” The sacrifice was shared equally between the people who could most afford to do it, and the weakest were protected. It’s not a drastic choice anymore between Communism and capitalism; everybody believes in free markets and free people. The question is how do we refine it? How do we create the best possible kind of free markets and free people? Beyond that, the median age crossed 40 for the first time in 1989. If you look at what happens to people as they age, mid-life and beyond, it’s not so much about, “How much can I accumulate?” and “What’s in it for me?” They start asking questions about meaning and purpose and legacy. If you go back 150 years, slavery was acceptable to most people. People are migrating, when they have a choice, to businesses that do offer meaning and purpose and a positive impact all around.
David Meltzer Bio
With expertise across many industry verticals, he is uniquely positioned as a world-renowned thought leader, business strategist and leading humanitarian. Dave has created a platform that allows him to communicate with everyone from college students to c-suite executives by using his principles for business and life: gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication. Utilizing these four principles every day allows Dave to live by his mission, “Make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.” Prominent Sports ExecutiveDave is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Sports 1 Marketing, a firm he co-founded with Hall of Fame Quarterback Warren Moon. His mission is implemented into each of the firm’s business services, which include, endorsement deals, sponsorship and gifting, business consulting, corporate equity ownership, transitional services, brand endorsements and licensing, athlete and celebrity alignment, among others. Sports 1 Marketing is currently involved with several sports and entertainment projects such as NFL Player’s Association, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Super Bowl, Athlete Network, Shmoop, The Master’s, Spartan Races, Internships.com, and countless others. He launched his career in sports at the world’s most notable sports agency, Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, serving positions as CEO, where along with Leigh and Warren, negotiated over $2 billion in sports and entertainment contracts. Keynote SpeakerBeing on stage has always been an easy platform for Dave to share his charisma, inspiration, and intelligence in front of a crowd of any size. A combination of Dave’s situational knowledge from his career and life journey has led to Dave as a keynote in front of Fortune 500 companies, top business conferences, prestigious universities, and sports seminars. He has a dynamic range of topics from; principles to success, sports technology, sports business, leadership, empowerment, negotiations, sales training, team development, marketing, and countless others. HumanitarianEvery business project that Dave works with requires having a charitable component or partner; which helps Dave continue to live by his mission. Recently, he was recognized for his efforts and honored at Variety’s Unite4:Humanity event as the Sports Humanitarian of the year.