How might 2020 be a Turning Point for Capitalism? How can we play a part in accelerating the shift to a more Conscious Capitalism here in Australia & NZ? And what next?


Conscious Capitalism Australia & NZ Members came together once again to continue exploring how we might build back better in a post-COVID world. There was much enthusiasm as we shared what we were working on, and how we were using Conscious Capitalism tenets in our business.

Facilitated by Lina Mbirkou, we asked…

How can this crisis be a turning point for capitalism and humanity? How do we show up as individuals, businesses and a collective in this moment in time?

As the initial shock of the pandemic passes, and we begin to adjust to an uncertain world, we are hopeful about what comes next. The pandemic has held a magnifying glass to our current systems, exposing its fragilities and where we could do better in serving society. Business has the power to help create change.


We took a moment to get a sense of how everyone had been holding up in these tough times — physically, mentally and spiritually. What were they doing to cope? Did they have any wisdom to share?

Here are takeaways:

  • Life has been a rollercoaster for some. It has amplified emotional peaks and troughs. There seemed to be an added weight and layer of complexity to everyday life.
  • Priorities are shifting. There is a renewed sense of appreciation for the simple but special things in life that were previously obscured or taken for granted. There was gratitude for the diversity of experiences life offers, and more of a focus on family, health and spirituality.
  • Mindfulness is an emerging theme. Some spoke of spirituality and consciousness, accessed through meditation and immersion in nature. Others longed for the joys of a simpler life filled with internal and external contemplation.
  • More deliberate relationships. Some have found themselves actively seeking social interactions; those used to come so easily. People are finding alternative ways to catch up with friends and family over Skype, or using virtual platforms to meet new people.


We then opened up the floor to every to share what they were doing to build back better, or any projects that may have emerged or developed since the last Town Hall.

  • Brendan Dixon from Pure Finance spoke of the importance of “putting people and planet before profit.” Pure Finance’s way of giving back is to ensure that each quarter money from profits are pooled together and donated to selected charities they feel are relevant to current issues. Other community projects include no interest loan schemes for marginalised groups who need it, and recently launched “Ladies Talk Money“, a free, online platform of videos, articles and resources dedicated to supporting women to talk about all things money – with a mission of removing the stigma and encouraging open, honest discussions about the issues that are keeping women from true financial equality. The company also recently became B Corp certified, and we celebrate them for being an example of how conscious business practices can thrive in the finance sector, a sector that doesn’t always have the best reputation!
  • Intrepid Travel is in the travel sector, probably the industry most affected by the pandemic. So they have been focusing on what will happen after the pandemic is over. Co-founder, Geoff Manchester, sparked our reflection on the ways in which businesses impacts the community and other stakeholders. For them, being in the travel industry, it was things like over-tourism, carbon emissions, and the use of animals in tourism. Geoff acknowledged that the tourism industry has to change, and that being in the industry they were part of things. So Intrepid tries to contribute to conversations and webinars in those areas, and by publishing opinion pieces. As a specific example, he spoke of carbon emissions, to which tourism is a major contributor. More than 10 years ago, they started taking actions and became carbon neutral in 2010. This year, they have just pledged to increase and offset 125% of their emissions. Intrepid has also released a 10 Step Quick Guide on How to Decarbonise Your Travel Business so that others in their sector can use it to take similar steps; a great example of how businesses can lead in their sector, and how businesses embracing a stakeholder approach work in the interests of environment and community (and might even seem to counter-intuitively help their competitors! This is both purpose-driven and self-serving, without being a trade-off, and shows how conscious businesses align wins for multiple stakeholders).
  • Fast, and often mindless, growth seems to be one of the obsessions of capitalism. Josephine Too asks us to re-imagine business growth. Is growth sustainable? Should we be chasing endless growth? In a recent article, “Re-imagining business ‘Growth’​ post pandemic“, Josephine looked at the different types of growth, and encourages us to pursue a new type of growth that can help pave the path for a different and meaningful future for humanity.


At our previous Town Hall, we left energised, hopeful, and with a sense of urgency that there could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how society operates; to take action and shift gears before efforts to recover meant a return of the status quo. And if we wanted to do this, we were going to have to come together, and collaboration at all levels, and across sectors. Carolyn Butler-Madden shared some early stage ideas for what a purpose-led recovery might look like, that she and Zara Choy had been shaping.

  • Conscious Capitalism Australia & NZ and other values-aligned movements must take the lead in helping build back better – governments cannot be expected to solve all the problems of society.
  • A business-led, citizen-led campaign to advocate for a purpose-led recovery
  • Show solidarity, demonstrate the scale and breadth of the movement – make this impossible to ignore
  • Raise awareness that we should not revert to “normal”
  • Establish foundations for deeper collaboration of impact
  • Examples of what others have been doing
  • What is meant by “a purpose-led recovery” – putting people, planet and society’s needs at front and center of of recovery plans, alongside economic prosperity
  • Challenge and change the current economic model: from shareholder supremacy to stakeholder capitalism
  • Who should get on board? Australians – businesses, social enterprises, not-for-profits, individuals, government and all institutions
  • Next steps: Ecosystem Mapping, engage with collaborators, coordinate campaign
  • Request for support: Send any relevant initiatives or players to Zara to help with ecosystem mapping

Responses and reflections:

  • From experience with a similar project – if we lead the charge, government will follow. It’s hard for government to help if there are too many different voices – need a singular voice or issue to engage with
  • We shouldn’t speak about capitalism and being purpose-led as if there is a duality. Purpose-led organisations do better; it is the way to successful capitalism, and is not at the expense of profits.
  • How to you not get drawn away from “being conscious”? It’s important to have an anchor point – who are you? Start with defining what “purpose” means for you. When we are clear on that, then it can be an anchor point, or grounding, that we can come back to when times are tough, which is when people start getting drawn in disparate directions.
  • It’s easy to hold strong to principles when times are good. It’s when times aren’t so great thatt people get pulled away from who they truly are.
  • Traditional business tells us to find out what our customer wants, or what our stakeholder wants, and be that for them. That’s often how people end up losing themselves, spreading themselves too thinly, and then wondering what is their differentiation, what makes them unique? That stems from not being yourself, not having conscious alignment, and losing the pillar of who we are.
  • If we are clear on what your purpose is as a starting point, everything we do can be centered, in a range of different ways, around that purpose.


The Town Hall closed with the opportunity to offer and receive help in any form — services paid and unpaid, receiving advice or a listening ear, connection to resources, or other requests.

Community is built on sharing, and together we are stronger. In this spirit, members connected to see how if they had things they were able to offer each other, and also ask and see if there were things that others might be able to help them with.


We walked away once again feeling solidarity and on a shared journey to a hope-filled future we each had a part in creating.




Image by Thomas Ashlock on Unsplash

“Business as usual is not good enough anymore, and we want to lead by example. The plain truth is that capitalism needs to evolve if humanity is going to survive. More than ever, business needs to step up for democracy and a civil society.”

~ Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia

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