Are we seeing the (r)evolution of capitalism?

Paul Smith
Mar 20, 2016 · 3 min read

This article originally appeared in Industry Moves. It is about 650 words so should take the average adult less than 3 minutes to read. Enjoy!

Next week will see hundreds come together to discuss, and celebrate, the rise of conscious business, and consumerism, at the 3rd Conscious Business Summit at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney. Later this year will see the 9th Annual Conscious Capitalism Summit in the US.

But what is conscious capitalism, why should you care and why is it on the rise?

We all know what capitalism is, right? In most parts of the world capitalism is the social system in which we live. Under this system, the means of production and distribution of goods and services are owned by the wealthy minority and the rest of us trade our time “working for the man” getting paid a salary in return.

But, before we get into the conscious side of things, the very concept of working for the man has changed significantly over the last 20 years, although you may not know it or feel it. In Australia our use of capitalism has gone through a huge shift and, you might say, is now going through another evolution (or revolution depending on your point of view). You see, most large companies in this country are listed on a stock exchange (think Telstra, the big banks and mining companies) which means that they are owned by investment managers and superannuation funds, plus a smattering of mega-wealthy families and individuals. That means “the man” is mostly anyone with a retirement fund, which is pretty much every adult in the country.

Yes, you der man!

There is a growing subset of new (and old) capitalists that don’t want to do capitalism the old way…

The other trend revolutionising capitalism, thanks to that even more recent invention, the Internet, is the rise of the entrepreneur. Last year in Australia saw more start-ups starting up than ever before. We now have the ability to turn our ideas into businesses quicker than you can say “I quit”. Yes, it’s true that the majority will fail — that’s always been the case — but our ability to fail and try again, and again and again has freed many millions of humble workers. We are starting to see that we can be in control and I think the old-style capitalists might be getting a bit anxious.

Now, here’s the real kicker. There is a growing subset of new (and old) capitalists that don’t want to do capitalism the old way, they don’t want to have to sacrifice themselves or others to get to the top. They don’t want to work for a charity and sacrifice their financial compensation either. They don’t want to have a negative impact on people or the environment. They want to make money AND have a positive impact.

Success is being redefined. Not to exclude financial success but to include social measures…

What! As they say in cricket, that’s just not capitalism!

But it is I tell you and it’s the (r)evolution we’ve been waiting for.

Success is being redefined. Not to exclude financial success but to include social measures like impact, inclusion, compassion and happiness.

Capitalism may not be conscious, but increasingly those that are using it are. Long may it continue I say! I hope one day we don’t even have to call it Conscious Capitalism, we just get to call it good-ol’ normal capitalism. There’s still a long way to go but the signs are good.

At the Conscious Business Summit on 10 June at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney you’ll hear from many of these successful businesses, like Patagonia and TuShare and a host of B Corporations.

To find out more and secure one of the last tickets go to

Originally published at

Founder & CEO of Future Directors Institute | Chair, Jane Goodall Institute Australia | Co-founder Gin Lane Australia and Start-up Boardroom | Husband, Father

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