The CEOs participating in the Conscious Capitalism® Summit I attended recently outside of Austin, Texas are clearly purpose driven. Equally purpose driven are the doctors, nurses and administrators of the Children’s Health Fund Austin program, which I also visited that same week. And while the 35 miles that separated these two groups seemed a world apart, upon reflection, there are a lot more similarities than differences. Both teams – the CEOs running Fortune 500 companies and the program directors running the mobile medical clinics – are motivated by the delivery of high quality products and/or services; they are client driven; they are top of the class entrepreneurs; they are leaders; and they are agents of positive change.
John Mackey, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is author of both the book and the movement that bears the name Conscious Capitalism. As one of the keynote speakers at this year’s CEO Summit, John presented data making the case that capitalism is the principal driver of the dramatic decreases in global poverty and that it will be equally important in ending extreme poverty – meaning the elimination of that bracket of the global population that earns less than $1.90 per day. According to the World Bank, 1.9 billion people (or 37.1 percent of the global population) lived on less than $1.90 a day in 1990, compared to a projected 702 million (9.6 percent) in 2015. That’s a 74.1 percent decline in 25 years. At these rates, Mackey points out, we could make extreme poverty history by 2030.
This kind of progress is music to the ears of the Children’s Health Fund Austin program, a partnership between CHF and Dell Children’s Hospital. Texas continues to be home to some of the poorest counties in the country and in 2014, the poverty rate in Texas was 17.2 percent, well above the national average of 14.5 percent. And in the state capital of Austin, the poverty rate for Hispanic and African-American residents is double the rate as that of Caucasians. Children have the highest poverty rate of all, and suffer disproportionately from the impact.
Back at the CEO Summit, speaker after speaker – CEOs, entrepreneurs, and visionaries – spoke about how looking at the world and their business with a conscious lens has helped them grow, earn greater profits for their company, and make the world a better place. Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell’s Soup, talked about making sure that the food they choose to sell would be welcome on her own supper table. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Truett Cathy spoke of his company’s dedication to customer service as being the true “secret sauce” to their success.
Across town, Dr. Marylyn Doyle, Medical Director of the CHF Program in Austin, and her team are also trying to make the world a better place – one child, one family, and one community at a time. I learned that Austin ranks third in the nation when it comes to the rate of teenage pregnancies and Dr. Doyle explained that pregnant teens must often make the difficult decision to postpone their high school education to care for their baby. Recognizing this, Dr. Doyle worked with a citywide task force to develop solutions to reduce the high rate of high school dropouts due to pregnancy and improve healthcare for the babies of these young moms. They determined that if medical services for both the teens and their new babies could go to them, it would help the teens stay in school and the infants would get the well-baby care they needed. So now the Austin mobile clinic makes regular visits at an innovative high school that combines academic classes for the teens with a daycare center for the babies. The medical team looks after the physical and mental health of the moms and the babies and has developed productive relationships with the daycare providers on site to improve continuity and comprehensiveness of care. Now these teen moms have a chance to graduate and build a future.
Maria and Josh from the CHF Team also shared how working on a 44’ long mobile medical clinic can be seen as both purpose driven – and driving with a purpose! They talked about literally “going the extra mile” and not being happy with just treating the symptoms. Indeed, the team prides itself on the kind of soup-to-nuts solutions that would make Denise Morrison and Campbell’s proud!
Take the case of Jennifer, a teenage girl whose diabetes was misdiagnosed prior to seeing the CHF Austin team. When she came onto the mobile unit her blood sugar levels were sky high and she complained of increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. The team immediately treated Jennifer on the mobile clinic, but also took on a greater role in her wellness, including case management, following-up with specialty appointments, and educating her mom on how to control Jennifer’s diabetes. The time and attention went well beyond what Medicaid would reimburse – but it was the right thing to do. It was “customer service” in its highest form. And today the results are more than evident: Jennifer is thriving at school, her diabetes is under control, and her family is eating better.
CEOs, entrepreneurs, and visionaries; healers, menders, and caregivers – each as dedicated as John Mackey to the highest level of consciousness as they go about changing the world; each working the front lines of poverty eradication – building economic and social capital, ensuring that, as the rising tide of economic growth sets to alleviate poverty, families have the resources and tools they need to navigate the waters.
In the business and social sectors, it seems our purpose-driven lives are increasingly intersecting. Indeed, there really is no divide. It takes a village; a convergence of resources and methods brought together through common purpose. Whether practicing conscious capitalism for greater economic impact or running a mobile medical clinic delivering health services to poor children and families, we are all purpose driven – and we are ending poverty.
We invite you to join the movement.