Conscious Capitalism: Doing Well by Doing Good

Socially responsible companies help improve our lives in the long run, argues one business owner who challenged the status quo and won big.

| April/May 2013

John Mackey who founded Whole Foods

John Mackey founded Whole Foods Market in 1978.

Photo Courtesy Whole Foods

John Mackey is an evangelist for capitalism. There's no better word to describe him.

Mackey believes capitalism can save the world. In fact, he thinks it already has to some extent.

In his new book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, Mackey argues that if we believe in the “heroic” potential of free enterprise, then free enterprise can solve most human problems. His mission is to make people believe in that heroic potential.

If this sounds uncomfortably messianic coming from a businessman, well, perhaps that’s Mackey’s style. He dismisses the excesses of traditional capitalism — slavery, environmental catastrophe, the eradication of indigenous cultures, mindless expansion — the way a Christian might pass off the Spanish Inquisition as an example of the potential of power to corrupt any human endeavor.

Fair enough.

But looking at capitalism’s track record, you may come to believe, as Mackey does, that socially responsible businesses have the power to do a lot of good in the world.

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