SOCAP Conversations: Meghan French Dunbar of Conscious Company on the First BIG Global Leaders Forum & The Rise of Sustainable Business

Posted by on March 16th, 2017

Conscious Company Media’s mission is to make sustainable business the future of business.

The company’s remarkable growth has kept pace with the rapid rise of interest in sustainable business practices, social entrepreneurship, and conscious leadership. Conscious Company Magazine broke ground in 2015 as the first nationally distributed publication in the US to focus solely on sustainable business. Since then, the Certified B Corp has attracted widespread attention from readers and business leaders from across the spectrum.

In 2016 Conscious Company supported SOCAP as a media partner. The company has announced that, this June, they will join SOCAP as a convener. They are now organizing their first national event. From June 7 – 9, 2017, The Business Impact for Good (BIG): Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum will convene leaders from across the country at the San Francisco Impact Hub to discuss topics related to purpose at work, conscious leadership, and sustainable business. We recently sat down with Conscious Company Co-founder Meghan French Dunbar to talk about the importance of having a sense of purpose at work, the rise of “conscious leadership,” and the vision that inspired their upcoming event.
 

 

SOCAP: Conscious Company Magazine has been on stands for a little over two years now. Can you tell us about the developments you’ve seen since your first issue?

Meghan French Dunbar: When we were conceptualizing the publication in 2014, we were operating under the thesis that there was intense interest in this industry of conscious business and sustainable business and that it would soon start growing. My business partner (Maren Keeley) and I both did our MBAs with a focus on sustainability. We knew that there were graduate programs popping up all over the United States focusing on that.

With that first issue we put out, we got into every Whole Foods in the nation, which was a massive win for us. But we were curious about whether or not we would ever make it past Whole Foods. We weren’t sure we would be able to bridge the gap to more mainstream retailers. After that first issue sold really well, we got picked up by Barnes and Noble. It started selling well there. Since then, over the last two years, we’ve been picked up by Target and Kroger and HEB and Publix.

We are now seeing the trend that what we were hoping for, that more traditional business people are interested in learning about how sustainable business practices could really benefit their bottom line–what we are calling the conscious curious group. There has been a tremendous interest in the magazine itself as well as a yearning for more information beyond the magazine.

What inspired Conscious Company Media to become a convener, or the idea for your upcoming event, The Business Impact for Good (BIG) Forum?

The BIG Forum event in June will be our first national gathering. The impetus for becoming a convener was that, we noticed the magazine attracted leaders from almost all of the major industries in the sustainable business movement. They were all contributing. We had posts from Social Venture Network and Conscious Capitalism and B Lab and the American Sustainable Business Council and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. In reading the magazine, industry groups were cross pollinating ideas with each other.

So we saw that this was happening through the vehicle of the magazine and we really wanted to understand how to take that to the next level. That is where the idea for the event came from: We are hoping to bring together all of these industry group leaders along with key influencers and business leaders who have come into our network through the publication of the magazine to really talk about how to make a broader impact working together rather than everyone working on their own causes in different silos.

What can people expect to see at your event? How are conversations going to be stimulated within the group?

We are unpacking the traditional conference model. While there still will be a focus on major keynote speakers who have a lot of insights to share, we are really going to be focusing on workshops, on small group work, and breakout sessions. The point of the event is really to get these people in the same room to collaborate—to stimulate dialogue between attendees. We are focusing on collaboration efforts and workshops to facilitate discussion that helps people get perspective and cross pollinate ideas.

The framework of the event, we are hoping, will set the stage. The three triads of conscious leadership that we are focusing on are: the personal work that we all need to do, the workplace development work that we all need to do, and the cause based work that we need to focus on externally outside of our businesses. Self, workplace, and world, that is how we are framing the different tiers of the event.

You have already announced a few of the facilitators and speakers who will be presenting at the conference, can you share some of the content you are most excited to see?

As we are pulling together the agenda, there are so many sessions that I am excited about–honestly, all of them. Sessions will cover everything from Mandy Cabot (the Co-founder and CEO of Dansko) talking about workplace culture, and mindfulness to experts in workplace development, such as Cory Smith (Co-founder and CEO of Wisdom Labs) and Marc Lesser (CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), to Robert Egger (the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen) who focuses on cause-based work and figuring out how to have a larger impact on the world through the work that you do. And Chinwe Onyeagoro, President of Great Place to Work US, will lead a deep dive conversation into how to create a great place to work. It is exciting, across the board, including a few folks that I’m not allowed to name yet along with some large cap companies that are coming down the pipe.

What are you hoping to catalyze through this summit? What are some of the major takeaways you are hoping for?

We are really hoping to demonstrate that making change in the world starts at the individual level. By bringing all these leaders into the same place at the same time we hope to stimulate discussions around how important it is to embody conscious leadership, and how big of an impact that can create. Broadening out from there, helping anyone who hopes to create a big impact with their business, see how important it is to start by making the culture at your organization sustainable and driven by purpose so that employees can come to work every day feeling happy, healthy, and fulfilled. That you understand how impactful wellbeing in the workplace is–because they take that home and out into their communities.

And then the larger, the big impact piece of not only what you can do as a sustainable or conscious business, but how the product you create or the workplace culture you create, of how impactful it could be if we all started thinking about broader cause initiatives and how business can be used as a tool for advocacy. We are really hoping to highlight some of the best of the best examples, because we have seen so many business leaders come out as advocates, and really use this platform as business leaders to really effect change on a specific cause whether that be environmental protection or immigration rights or women’s rights or economic inclusion. We really hope that these great examples of advocacy will really inspire business leaders, that outside of what they are doing on a day to day basis, to really think about the causes that they truly want to have an impact on and start thinking about the next step on how to effect change as a business leader outside your company.

Business Impact for Good (BIG): The Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum will take place in at the newly renovated Impact Hub in downtown San Francisco, CA June 7 – 9, 2017. For more information visit https://consciouscompanymedia.com/forum/
 
Meghan French Dunbar is Co-founder of Conscious Company Media and Editor-in-chieftess of Conscious Company Magazine. Prior to launching CCM, Ms. French Dunbar was Managing Editor of two nationally distributed publications and spent nearly a decade in strategy development and project management in the nonprofit world.