by Mariana Bozesan

As a species, we appear to rule the world and are living in relatively unchallenging times, even when you factor in the current COVID-19 pandemic or the looming threats posed by the grand global challenges, and yet we are still troubled. Otto Scharmer of MIT has written that we are currently experiencing a consciousness crisis because we are dealing with an “intellectual bankruptcy” whereby “the blind spot of economics and economic theory is our own consciousness.” This crisis seems to have initiated a significant mind shift that is not only challenging but also actively starting to change outdated structures that cannot accommodate the needs of the new global reality. A host of leaders from all areas of life, including high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, have emerged as major players in this shift. Spurred into action by both personal crises and major global emergencies, they have begun to act more daringly. Mind shift as a trend?

Financial Structures with a Higher Purpose are Mushrooming

As a result, new structures and new measurement criteria in the areas of investing, philanthropy, business, and finance are mushrooming, resulting in reforming banks such as the GLS Bank in Germany, the TRIODOS Bank in The Netherlands, and the Crédit Coopératif in France to name only a few. At time of writing, 59 financial institutions, four associate banks, and 16 partners had joined together to form the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) to serve close to 60 million clients worldwide. In their 2019 annual report, the alliance:

  • Challenges the myth that sustainable investments yield lower returns,
  • Shows that sustainable banks have significantly higher levels of growth in deposits and loans than traditional banks,
  • Demonstrates higher and better-quality inflows of capital,
  • Reveals that sustainable banks are investing more successfully in a greener and fairer society, and 
  • Shows that their business model is more robust and resilient than that of traditional banks.

Furthermore, we continue to witness the emergence of progressive organizations such as SOCAP, the Social Venture Circle, the UN PRI (Principles of Responsible Investing of the UN, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the Giving Pledge, the German Bundesinitiative Impact Investing (Biii), and the Toniic investors network, to name only a few. Some were started by ultra-high-net-worth individuals such as Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Al Gore, George Soros, and Elon Musk, who apparently use investing in reformist institutions as a self-actualizing vehicle that aims to guide humanity toward a better future.

Later Stages of Consciousness Drive Systemic Transformation

Research by Christian Arnsperger, Julia Balandina-Jacquier, Antony Bugg-Levine, Jed Emerson, Hal Brill et al., Edward Kelly and Bill Torbert, Peter Senge et al., and Rajendra Sisodia et al. supports the view that an increasing number of regular wealth owners have awakened to later stages of consciousness, driving them toward transformation referred to as integral second tier (Ken Wilber), or yellow meme (Spiral Dynamics).

When we look more closely at this phenomenon, it appears to be a trend toward personal growth. It seems to me that the desired changes toward sustainability are taking place within a rather complex context, comprising changes not only in environmental, financial, economic, and social perspectives but also in individual behaviors. What Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman called “obsolete doctrines that clutter the minds of men” are actually sociopolitical and interobjective rules, circumstances, and regulations that often impede transformation, but also contain culturally interior, intersubjective, and deeply ingrained norms, such as ethics and morals, that heavily influence both our individual and our collective behaviors.

Mind Shift Is Normal

Transformations in consciousness are not a new phenomenon. They have evolved over thousands of years and, in relatively recent times, have been represented by Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of needs or by Jean Gebser in his structures of human consciousness, to name a few. What emerges through various developmental models could be viewed as a common story of mind-shift evolution that has been corroborated by various empirical studies on leaders and consciousness leadership (see my book Consciousness Leadership in Business). Some of those studies were performed at Stanford University and focused on the evolving definition of success from the perspective of accomplished human beings.

Theta Model: Mind Shift through De-Risking 

Integral Investing theory, which applies these various models in our Theta Model and due diligence process is also corroborated by research performed by Robert Eccles and Svetlana Klimenko, John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, and Sisodia et al. on “firms of endearment,” companies that uphold a culture of strong ethics and sustainability. The data show that corporations with a culture based on sustainability and higher ethical values have also performed well financially—on average, eight times better than S&P 500 companies. The financial information tends to be a good way to convince people empirically of the value of such an approach, letting the figures speak for themselves, as it were.

People, Planet, Profit and Purpose Are One

Drawing on case studies from numerous organizations in the finance, nutrition, health, education, and political sectors, Sisodia et al. strongly suggest that there is a genuine ongoing search for meaning and a change of mindset in today’s organizations. The Conscious Capitalism movement, started in 2005 by John Mackey, who founded US food retailer Whole Foods, is one manifestation of this trend. In their book Conscious Capitalism, Mackey and Sisodia refer to several of the models discussed above and say they “believe that the vision and values of Conscious Capitalism” are consistent with the articulation of second-tier memes represented in both Clare Grave’s Spiral Dynamics, as well as Ken Wilber’s work on integral consciousness evolution. Under the leadership of Mackey, Whole Foods had a 40 percent higher ROI than organizations that are not classed as firms of endearment over a period of 10 years. The shareholder value for investors in Whole Foods, which was sold to Amazon in 2017 for US$ 13.7 billion, grew between 1995 and 2006 to more than 1800 percent. This could be viewed as confirmation that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” a quote attributed in 2006 to celebrated management consultant Peter Drucker by Ford CEO Mark Fields.

(this is an excerpt from my new book and Report to the Club of Rome Integral Investing: From profit to Prosperity – there you can also find all academic references mentioned in the above text)

Book: Integral Investing: From Profit to Prosperity

Deep Investing as a Self-Actualization Vehicle 

In this videocast “Mind Shift as a Trend”, fellow deep impact investor, TONIIC founder and Club of Rome colleague, Dr. Charly Kleissner explains why he uses investing as a self-actualization vehicle. He believes that the deeper meaning of wealth is to make a positive contribution to humanity and the planet and sees impact investing not as an intellectual exercise, but as an expression of who he really is. The main conversation in this program gravitates around the short, medium and long-term interventions that should be made in order to restart the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic. Charly insists on restructuring and forgiving loans in the short term to all those who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic so they can strengthen their health, recover their economic prowess and regain their purchasing power. Moreover, he thinks that providing blended capital in the long and medium term would help transform the investment industry toward becoming more sustainable and help create a more resilient economy. Also, he dives into the role exponentially growing technologies in the current landscape and how we can leverage them to ensure Deep Impact and the future of life on the planet.

Enjoy the show and share it widely!