Home Depot’s CEO Bernie Marcus made news last summer when he said he was giving 80-90% of his $5.9 Billion
There are a number of reasons we shouldn’t celebrate philanthropic billionaires:
- They don’t donate for equity. Billionaires tend to donate significant amounts of money to their alma maters for new buildings, or hospitals for a wing named after them. Moreover, they mostly donate to education and the arts. Recognition and congratulations are what they seek for their philanthropy. It’s an ego stroke for them. Nearly 80% of them donate to education. 57% of them donate to healthcare. In contrast, less than 1% of them donate to causes like homelessness and hunger. Specifically, only .1% of billionaires donate to solve the homelessness problem. And only .1% of them donate to solve the hunger problem.
- The shouldn’t have hoarded that much money in the first place. There is a fundamental flaw in the system of philanthropy. It’s the concept of infinite endowments. That is, the money is supposed to last forever. In reality, we have more than enough money sitting in various endowments right now to solve the problems of hunger and homelessness. And plenty left over for other world problems. Furthermore, if we used it all to solve the world’s problems in the next ten years, we wouldn’t need to keep the endowments going in perpetuity. For example, it would cost approximately $20 Billion to end homelessness in America. That’s half the price of Harvard University’s endowment. Think about that. Harvard could end homelessness in a year and still have $20.9 Billion left over. Yale University’s endowment could end hunger in America and still have $5.3 Billion left over. Removing this will take care of a $25 billion problem. Hunger in the whole world could be eliminated with the funds from less than a dozen of the largest endowments in the United States.
- They’ve been able to hoard all that money by using extractive practices that are destroying the earth and taking advantage of marginalized people. There is a terrible case study happening right now. The global pandemic has shown us that our essential workers are extremely vulnerable. Many of the grocery stores and Amazon fulfillment and delivery workers are from marginalized communities. They put themselves at risk every time they go to work. Yet companies are doing very little to show they care. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are doing the best job. But it’s still not enough. They only allow a certain number of people in the store at a time. Technically, shoppers could maintain social distance. However, an alarming number of shoppers are not paying attention to how far they stay from others. When shoppers ignore social distance, they put the workers at an even greater risk.
We can do better. And we must.
There is a way forward from here. It is called Conscious Capitalism. However, it’s so different from the crony capitalism we’re used to, it probably needs a totally different name. It’s a business model that is good for everyone and the planet.
The four tenets that govern conscious capitalism are:
- Purpose. Conscious capitalists run their businesses with a higher purpose beyond just profit. For
example:Salesforce’s purpose is to help usher in a carbon neutralworld.
- Stakeholder Orientation. In contrast to the shareholder orientation of most organizations, conscious capitalists consider all stakeholders in their decision making. Anyone and anything impacted by the company is a stakeholder. That includes employees and their families, shareholders,
supplychain, the community, and the planet.
- Conscious Leadership. Conscious leaders are
values basedand emotionally intelligent. They’re tapped into spiritual intelligence. They understand that we’re all connected and interrelated. And they practice systems intelligence. They used design thinking as a way to get the best out of their teams and processes.
- Conscious Culture. Lastly, conscious capitalists build conscious cultures. A conscious culture is one with high levels of psychological safety and belonging. They are great places to work. And, they have highly productive teams. The best of them are BRAVE Cultures™:
purpose driven, wildyinnovative, and fiercely inclusive.
In conclusion, don’t be so quick to celebrate philanthropic billionaires as they do it for their own needs rather than the welfare of others in most scenarios.
Johanna Lyman is the Founder and CEO of NextGen Orgs.
She is a Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach with over fifteen years of experience in implementing organization wide change strategies for both Fortune 500 companies and Small Businesses.
At NextGen Orgs, they use a combination of unique delivery methods and processes that crack the code on establishing lasting organizational behavior changes in a relatively short period of time. Their proprietary and evolutionary system can eliminate months of frustration often associated with developing strong leadership and building a cohesive, collaborative team.Johanna is a professional speaker, available to speak on a variety of topics related to culture, communication, innovation, and leadership skills. She is the Board President for the Bay Area Chapter of Conscious Capitalism and is deeply versed in how to help businesses be a force for good in the world. Learn more (URL: https://www.nextgenorgs.com/about/). Contact Johanna at firstname.lastname@example.org