Tis the season to voice what we stand for...election season. How we believe the world should be. From dinner party arguments to the polls we stand by candidates or against others on the foundation of what we believe is right. From the basics of integrity to the the specifics of economics, from Roe vs Wade to healthcare - we take a stand and speak, write and vote accordingly.
The question we must ask ourselves is do we act accordingly?
There is no clearer way to examine or follow our actions then by paying attention to how we earn, spend and invest our money. I remember my aha moment of my own cognitive dissonance a few years ago when news came out about Apple's use of production lines that were less then optimal in the human rights department. I remember being disappointed and angry at Apple but I also noticed that I was passionately expressing my disappointment using an iPhone, a Macbook and an iPad. Which may have been ok, except I went on the buy more Apple stuff. Why...because I liked Apple stuff.
We have this opportunity of taking powerful action through the wheels of commerce. This action may seem subtle, but its not. We live in a world of stuff and we are not going to give it up. We like our lattes, our smart phones, our cars, our exotic food, our vacations. And if we look close enough we can see the dotted line between the things we like and the values and principles we believe in.
I believe that corporations are necessary because when I look around and notice all those things things in my/our life that seem integral to our success, creativity, well-being and fulfillment, I see the wheels of commerce. Yes, I also believe that corporations have tended to take the less then social and environmental road while making these wheels turn, however corporate strategy has evolved and there is plenty of evidence to show social and environmental mission(as opposed to obligation) within the corporate community.
We can effect change by standing behind the companies who have these missions by buying their products and investing our money and our careers with them. This togetherness will lead toward a powerful sea change, with downstream influence on the issues we toss back and forth across the political aisle.
Underlying our the decisions that drive the flow of our money is "not having enough", our most primal survival instinct lurks. So it’s good know that there is plenty of evidence these days showing that those companies who are faced with a decision between doing good or realizing profit, those who choose good are reporting that they end up making more. This reality which is expressed much more eloquently by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has been noticed and adopted more and more by those in the C-suite. Sustainability is a panacea. It means preserving the environment as much as it means producing a profit again and again over a long period of time. Not to be confused to hauling in a short term chunk of cash with no succession plan.
So the good news is if we invest in and work with those socially and environmentally mission driven business’s, we will effect change, feel fulfilled and enjoy the fruits.
P.S. I write this from a Macbook and I manage a fund that invests in companies that have social and environmental missions. It invests in Apple. Since that aforementioned cognitive dissonance, my research has shown that Apple has realized the error of their ways and acted accordingly.