Raj Sisodia

Can compassionate capitalists really win?

March 30, 2011: 11:57 AM ET

Raj Sisodia, head of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, believes companies that focus on the bottom line, instead of on employees' needs, will fall behind.

By David Whitford, editor-at-large

Raj Sisodia

Raj Sisodia, making capitalists conscious

After years of layoffs, cutbacks, and closures in the corporate sector, it's hard to imagine that any competitive American company really puts the needs of its employees before its profits. But Raj Sisodia is a big believer in corporate compassion. Born in India, Sisodia was educated there and at Columbia University in New York, where he received his PhD, and he's currently professor of marketing at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.

In May, Bentley will host the third annual international conference sponsored by the Conscious Capitalism Institute, of which Sisodia is chairman and co-founder. Its supporters include Whole Foods (WFMI), Costco (COST) and the Indian multinational, Tata Group. Fortune caught up with Sisodia to discuss the changing dynamics of American capitalism after the deepest recession in decades.

What is Conscious Capitalism?

Conscious Capitalism is defined by four characteristics. First is a higher purpose. There needs to be some other reason why you exist, not just to make money. Second is aligning all the stakeholders around that sense of higher purpose and recognizing that their interests are all connected to each other, and therefore there's no exploitation of one for the benefit of another. The third element is conscious leadership, which is driven by purpose and by service to people, and not by power or by personal enrichment. And the fourth is a conscious culture, which really embodies all of these elements: trust, caring, compassion, and authenticity. More

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