On Alchemy: Collective Greed to Corporate Social Responsibility

What an honor to do a DEEP Dive after this week’s show on The Ascension with Dr. Berger! We are honored to have her as part of the Ascension Team! ~Dr. Denise

Commentary by Denise D. Berger, EdD, Conscious Capitalism Guru

Our talk was kicked off by Dr. Andrea Best’s prompt: can we say that we are living in a time of “collective greed.”  As we pondered that, what comes to mind is the understanding and (sometimes difficult) acceptance that we humans are at different levels of consciousness.  And greed operates at a lower level, right?  It seems that we have a duality, rather a range, of collectiveness in society – from, yes, collective greed, but also to collective impact and goodness, led by virtues, character and culture that is grounded in a moral ethos.  And developing organizational culture has to be tied to developing individual character, for “character is to an individual, as culture is to an organization.”
When we think about organizations, CSR (corporate social responsibility) is mirroring what we see in the “collectiveness” range.  The quote that captures the range: CSR is like teenage sex. “Everyone says they’re doing it, but only half are doing it. And of the half, only half are doing it THE RIGHT WAY.”  At the most basic level of CSR, an organization is doing what it needs to do to mitigate risk. They are compliant. They are likely to also be philanthropic, in a sense that they donate money to some causes or activities.  But that only puts them on the game board.  They are merely standing on “go.”  And so there is a lot of room in there to exhibit greed, to put out empty marketing statements or half-baked brand promises.
The more sophisticated levels of CSR – itCSR – are transformative, integrative, innovative, COLLABORATIVE, shared, distributive, and collective. The organizations that are leading from a place of collective goodness  value both the business case for CSR (and embedded in this is EDI work) as well as the circularity of doing their part to have meaningful positive impact on people/communities and the planet/environment.  By circularity, I am talking about circular wisdom, guided by virtues – that doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do AND doing it the right way, results in elevating everyone!  A thriving society helps businesses; and a prosperous business helps (should/can help) society. As MLK Jr, said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
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