The Four Pillars

The Conscious Capitalism movement identifies four pillars of Conscious Business Practices:  Purpose, Leadership, Culture, and Stakeholders.  The Thriving Petoskey Committee believes that in order to be a more Socially Conscious business, you must have a firm understanding and acceptance of the four pillars.  We outline them for you here:


The first pillar may be the most difficult to grasp, but the most important to implement.  We call it “Purpose Beyond Profits,” that ‘thing’ that is more important than your bottom line.  If you didn’t have to run a company, or if you had considerable wealth, what would your purpose be?  How would you use your time and resources?  So, what if the work of your business was done to fulfill that purpose?  When you find your true purpose, you continue to make the widgets or provide that special service or product that you always have, but you do it to provide the means to support your true purpose.

For example:

  • The purpose of Tom’s Shoes is to help those in need around the world
  • The purpose of Dave’s Killer Bread is to reduce prison recidivism
  • The purpose of Café Momentum is to successfully integrate juvenile delinquents into the workforce
  • The purpose of Biggby Coffee is to love people.
  • Purposes can be anything:
    • Fighting Hunger
    • Helping the Environment
    • Caring for Employees
    • Caring for the Community
    • Caring for a community cause


The Conscious Capitalism Movement says a business relies on many stakeholders for its success.  When we think of stakeholders, we traditionally think of three:

  1. Shareholders (Owners)
  2. Customers/Clients
  3. Employees.

It’s true, to be successful, these three stakeholders are critical to an organization.  But the founders of Conscious Capitalism say there are other stakeholders who are integral to the success of your business as well.  They include:

  1. Suppliers (or your business partners)
  2. Community
  3. Environment

When you look at all six stakeholders, the critical thought is that one can’t benefit at the expense of another.  Shareholder’s profits shouldn’t increase at the expense of the environment, or your customers can’t benefit at the expense of your employees.  A Conscious Business leader continually looks to find those win-win-win situations that elevate all stakeholders.


One can never underestimate the power of a bold and passionate leader.  The success of any business can be directly correlated to the effectiveness of its leadership.  Leading a team toward a shared vision by taking action on a local issue can build a result that will benefit both the business and the community.  By creating the force that shapes the job and tackles an issue – synergy erupts.  Combining work and engaging in a project of a greater good outside of work gives new meaning to team building.  Every business leader wants their workforce to be engaged in the success of the business.  In “Conscious Capitalism” it is important to recognize that the leader can move things forward in a significant way, providing opportunity for each worker to feel a shared ownership inside the business and outside by having an impact on a meaningful project.


Envision a business where the employees obviously love their jobs, and others are lining up to apply for an open position. The employees feel valued and empowered. These businesses realize the benefits of a positive culture in their workplace. Culture is the values, principles, practices within a business that connect the stakeholders to each other and to the purpose, people and processes that comprise the company. Trust, caring, transparency, integrity, learning and empowerment are all components of a conscious culture.

We encourage a culture with purpose-filled work. Strive to build the foundation to help team members provide for themselves and others that are important to them. Conscious culture gives more meaning to the job than just a paycheck. Life isn’t about the money you make; it’s about what you do with your life to impact others.

The cultures of these types of companies are tangible to their stakeholders as well as to outside observers; you can feel the difference when you walk into a conscious business versus one that is purely driven by a profit motive and run just for the benefit of shareholders.

A great example of a Michigan Company who embraces a positive business culture is
Cascade Engineering.