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It's not all about the Benjamins for these Benefit Corps and other ethical businesses

PMG: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Attendees of the Conscious Capitalism conference in Portland in 2018. The show returns this year, bigger than before.

The Conscious Capitalism movement is growing in Portland. It is two years since the last conference was put on by Portland's Conscious Capitalism chapter at the Ecotrust Center on Snowmagedden, 2019.

This year the gathering is back and it represents a collaboration between 11 like-minded groups of caring capitalists, including Benefit Corporations for Good and B Local PDX.

Benefit Corporations for Good is a nonprofit that supports companies to become certified and thrive under the State of Oregon's Benefit Corporation structure.

Its certification program is not quite as robust as that of the official B Corps. It has 55 questions that must be answered, as compared to a B Corps' 150 questions.

The master of ceremonies of the ELEVATE Business 2020 Conference is CEO and publisher, Corey Blake. who began his storytelling career as an actor, starring in one of the 50 greatest Superbowl commercials of all time (Mountain Dew, Bohemian Rhapsody). The message is people, community, and planet, not just profit.

"It is where capital meets heart," says Vawn Hicks, co-chair of Portland's Conscious Capitalism chapter. "Today's forward-thinking business leaders know they must focus on how they best meet the needs of investment, consumer and talent markets. It's no longer an option if that business leader wants her business to survive and thrive in the future."

The Business Roundtable in 2019 redefined corporate purpose to make business more humane, has inspired greater attention to the conscious capitalism movement since.

At the Roundtable nearly 200 chief executives, including the leaders of Apple, Pepsi and Walmart, said businesses should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders but also invest in employees, protect the environment and act ethically toward their suppliers.

Hicks was a volunteer in 2018 in Portland and got hooked on the idea that business could be about more than making money.

"Capitalism took us from the Dark Ages to the Industrial Revolution," Hicks told the Business Tribune. "Some people are turned off by the word capitalism. Whatever you're thinking, we're doing the opposite of that. We're putting the conscious into conscious capitalism."

She said the word often triggers people, one way or the other.

No woo-noo

Elevate Business 2020 features national and local thought leaders.

Keynote speakers include Benefit Corporation pioneer John Montgomery, CEO of Lex Ultima. Montgomery most recently co-founded A Better Party Films which will debut a 2020 documentary called Awakening a Force for Good about the global movement of business as a force for good.

Other keynote speakers include Dr. Dean Anderson and Dr. Linda Ackerman, CEO and VP respectively of Being First. They are pioneers of organizational transformation, conscious change leadership, and creators of a robust methodology that supports business transformation toward more conscious practices.

"This isn't woo-woo stuff," said Hicks. "Lots of young people are turning up at companies and asking 'What is your mission?'"

The speakers will share their knowledge and best practices about how to embrace the accelerating shift toward stakeholder capitalism and maintain profitability, how caring for people helps your bottom line, and how to position your business to attract investors.

They propose to help Portland businesses answer such questions as:

• How do I embrace this shift and maintain profitability?

• How do I position my business to attract investors?

• How does caring for people help my bottom line?

• How can I shop and invest with companies that match these values?

What: Elevate Business 2020

Where: The Evergreen in Portland

Who: Business leaders interested in the "why" and "how" of a stakeholder approach to business

Why: Nine national and local thought leaders share their wisdom on how to build a forward-leaning business for 2020 and beyond.

When: March 4, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: The Evergreen, 618 SE Alder St. Portland, OR 97214

How: Tickets: $150 – 200

https://bit.ly/2GQBgpQ


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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