1. Conscious Capitalism

Over my twenty-five year career, I’ve had the honor of working with thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners. I firmly believe in the power of small businesses and mission-driven founders to make the world a better place, regardless of tax status. Inspiring leaders who make the world a better place start and run for-profit companies, non-profits, and other forms of organization. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy—according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 67% of U.S. job creation.

Over the past 50 years, a growing movement of small businesses (and even some large corporations) have chosen to identify themselves as proponents of an economic philosophy called “conscious capitalism”. Conscious capitalism believes that business can be about more than just making a profit. It can be about higher purpose, making the world a better place. Double bottom-line.

These are the types of endeavors that have built my career—starting, investing in, and growing companies on a mission to make the world a better place, not just make money. To date, I’m honored to have held leadership and/or board positions in more than 25 corporations and organizations that have grown to more than $1 billion in market value. Double bottom-line companies like these make money while achieving positive social impact in the world.

Reaching beyond the workplace, conscious capitalism describes a socially responsible economic and political philosophy. It demands that businesses operate ethically while they pursue profits and that all organizations operate based on core values as they aspire toward positive impact. Four guiding principles include a higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, mindful leadership, and a conscious culture. This optimizes profit while encouraging the adaptation of broad common interests into the company's business plan, directing the power of capitalism toward good.

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable released a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, which said all its member companies share a fundamental commitment to all their stakeholders, including employees, customers, the community, and the environment. Because of this commitment beyond financial shareholders, we can see conscious capitalism in action. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and one of the leaders of this movement, expressed it best when he said, “I really strongly believe that capitalism as we know it is dead…that we’re going to see a new kind of capitalism, and that new kind of capitalism that’s going to emerge is not the Milton Friedman capitalism that’s just about making money.”

Here are seven concrete ways I propose we incorporate conscious capitalism principles into federal policy.

1. Economy and Quality Jobs

Putting The Working Class First
In our pursuit of a fair and prosperous society, it is imperative to prioritize the working class. As a Democrat, I champion policies that uplift hardworking families, ensuring access to quality education, affordable healthcare, and fair wages. By investing in upskilling, vocational training programs, apprenticeships, and helping small businesses, we empower workers to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving economy. I advocate for robust workers' rights, including collective bargaining and a living wage, to build a foundation for economic security. Together, we can bridge the wealth gap, fostering an inclusive society where every individual has the opportunity to achieve.

Business For Good
In addition to my commitment to workers, I’m firmly committed to my belief that the best companies create good quality jobs. I will be publishing an op-ed explaining how we can upgrade and optimize our nation’s education-to-employment system to create 75 million quality jobs. In addition, we will raise awareness of B-Corporations. These will be measured on their positive social impact alongside their financial returns in a double-bottom-line assessment. Upon election, we will create more fairness in the tax code by increasing the corporate tax rate to 25% for C-Corporations that generate more than $100 million in profit but keep it at 15% for B-Corporations and small businesses to encourage more companies to be impact-oriented and community-focused. Small businesses that earn less than $1 million per year in profit will enjoy a federal tax rate of 0% because they are the engine of American economic growth and job creation. My administration believes that capitalism is the world’s best economic system, but our laws and systems need to be modernized to embrace conscious capitalism. This will build better businesses for all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Workers, customers, and the community matter just as much as shareholders.

Good Quality Jobs
In driving economic reform, I advocate for a transformative approach centered on upskilling across a wide range of technology-empowered service jobs. By investing in comprehensive training programs, we empower individuals to harness the potential of emerging technologies, opening avenues for lucrative careers. This initiative not only addresses the demands of a rapidly evolving job market but will also propel our workforce into higher-paying positions, with the potential to earn $50,000 - $200,000 a year, even for Americans without a college degree. Embracing innovation and nurturing a tech-savvy workforce not only secures individual financial success but also positions our nation at the forefront of global competitiveness, ensuring a prosperous future for all.

2. Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Small businesses are the engines of job creation—creating 62.7% of all new jobs—and we need to make it easier for them to get started, grow jobs and scale. But Federal efforts to support entrepreneurship are sprawled across an array of federal departments and agencies which lack a unifying and coordinating mechanism. My policy agenda, based on the great ideas of Right To Start, calls for creating a Director of Entrepreneurship whose job would be to coordinate power across the executive branch, develop proposals to modernize Federal policy based on States that are having the most success creating new businesses, and track data on new business creation and growth.

In addition, we need to make the small business tax cut permanent (set to expire in 2025). But I would also ask Congress to go further, updating the tax code as described above to incentivize conscious capitalism. With these incentives in place, we can confidently predict that there will be a stampede of C-Corporations converting themselves to B-Corporations in order to reduce their tax bills by 10%. In addition, since we know that future growth will be driven by a new generation of entrepreneurs working to solve the 21st century’s toughest challenges, we should teach entrepreneurial skills in K-12 schools, a support their incubation in postsecondary programs, powered by a rising generation of investors committed to creating new businesses with positive impact.

3. Labor Unions 2.0

I understand hourly workers and the working class, because I started my career in food service waiting tables and my first company offered a meal plan for students. I’m fortunate enough to say I understand the American Dream because I’ve lived it—and I’m fighting for others to get the same opportunity, too. As a friend of unions, with concrete plans to upgrade our union laws, I’ve been tracking the noble efforts of Culinary Union 226. I believe all workers should have good jobs, fair wages, predictable schedules, better job security, safer working conditions, and health benefits. 2023 presented a watershed year for workers. Our administration wants this movement to grow in a people-first agenda. Despite a historically supportive National Labor Relations Board and relatively high union favorability, more than 90% of Americans are not in unions. American labor law has not been meaningfully updated since the 1950s. We need to update employment and union laws so that an upgraded version of unions can fulfill its core purposes: to protect workers from unsafe and unfair practices, to empower them to collectively bargain, to ensure evaluations more on talent than seniority, and to offer stronger pathways to apprenticeship and upskilling. We have to protect the best employees as they move up the ladder, not protect bad apples. I support the right of individuals and companies to bargain over wages, benefits, and working conditions. I also recognize the need to innovate in an economy with today’s ever-changing employment landscape. We need to reconceptualize what a union is so that it can be portable between industries and firms, in the same way previous administrations have crafted portability in retirement (through 401Ks) and healthcare (through the healthcare marketplace). We should encourage changes to labor law that promote experimentation at the state and local levels, allowing companies, unions, and governments to apply for waivers that encourage new union models specifically designed for the 21st century. Together we can create a labor system that ensures workers are safe and well-compensated. When talent is rewarded and upskilling or reskilling are the norm, and companies can become even more profitable.

4. Gun Violence Reduction

Gun ownership is both a fact of American life and a protected right under the Constitution, but the United States has a very real gun problem. Too many guns are in the hands of too many people who should not possess them, too many gun owners practice irresponsible storage practices, and too many regulations exist to protect gun dealers and the gun industry instead of innocent people. Our schools, churches, and Main Streets are no longer places where Americans can feel sure in their safety. These problems hinder efforts to bring renewed economic vitality to American communities. Common sense solutions to these problems can strike a balance between preserving individual rights, individual safety, and community prosperity. I support a national background check system for all gun purchases. I support red flag laws to empower family members and law enforcement to prevent gun violence and gun-related suicides by petitioning a court to temporarily separate someone who may be in crisis from their firearms. I also support implementing a massive buyback program for assault rifles. We must keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill individuals and people convicted of domestic violence. Encouraging industry to be part of the solution makes perfect sense. Through adopting common sense practices and improvements—the adoption of smart gun features, gun safety expansion, and stopping the spread of downloadable 3-D printed guns—we can create a safer tomorrow.

5. Green Jobs and Climate Change

Climate change presents the greatest existential threat our planet has ever known. Its most serious impacts are already being felt though forest fires, disappearing coastlines, power outages:, and other disasters where marginalized communities are especially bearing the brunt. Some activists want to completely abandon conventional sources of energy production, concerned about time horizons for change, but I see an alternative. We can create twenty-five million new, green quality jobs if we embrace a “people-first, jobs-focused, electrify everything” approach to addressing climate change. First, we need to adopt many of the policy prescriptions outlined in Saul Griffith’s excellent book “Electrify Everything”, especially with regards to solar power, upgrading the transmission grid, and creating better financing mechanisms. Second, we need to decrease our reliance on finite fossil fuels by gradually reducing subsidies and increasing taxes as we continue to build the clean energy grid of tomorrow. Third, we need aggressive investment in a new energy workforce, helping those in fossil fuel production bridge to high-paying jobs in the green energy sector as those industries become more profitable and sustainable. Fourth, we need to further expand the adoption of nuclear power, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, and other existing or soon-to-be-deployed technologies to power our communities. Imagine a legion of entrepreneurs building and deploying solar energy, wind energy, fusion energy, new battery technology, and other solutions. With a sustained, positive economic effort that embraces new technologies and prepares people and infrastructure for the future, we can power our nation in economically responsible and ethical ways.

6. Affordable Housing

I am committed to addressing the critical issue of housing affordability. Housing is a fundamental necessity that should be accessible and affordable for all. Americans with good jobs should be able to afford rent, but millions are working multiple jobs while having to allocate the majority of their earnings to housing. Even worse, more than 500,000 Americans find themselves either sleeping on the streets or seeking refuge in homeless shelters today due to the inability to finance a place to live.

We have a housing problem in America because zoning and tax policies have made it too difficult to fund and construct affordable and working-class housing. I support strong Federal policies that make it easier to fund, construct, and upgrade urban housing, including expansion and modernization of the National Housing Trust Fund. I’m also proposing that States create a Rent Deposit Fund for low-income families to pay 10% into a Fund in lieu of a deposit to make housing and moving more affordable. I’m also in favor of temporary rent control measures where appropriate, during inflationary periods.

Education is another key aspect of my approach. I believe in empowering individuals with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about homeownership and rental agreements. Financial literacy programs and homeownership assistance can pave the way for more families to achieve the dream of stable and affordable housing. By fostering thoughtful policies, collaborative efforts, and education, we can work towards ensuring that every individual and family has the opportunity to access safe, affordable, and dignified housing. I believe in a future where housing is a source of security and comfort for all.

7. Liberation

We need to acknowledge slavery, Jim Crow laws, and other discriminatory processes that have left Americans, and particularly people of color, in the US without equal levels of wealth, education, or opportunity. If we want to build a bright future we must acknowledge the darkness in our past, and that begins by offering reparations to those who have suffered, either directly or through a parent or ancestor, at the hands of systemic oppression. Through a combination of financial restitution and political empowerment we can extend the promise of the American Dream to millions of Black and indiginous Americans for whom it has remained out of reach. A comprehensive national dialogue modelled on South Africa’s Truth And Reconciliation Commission, which led to a Federally sponsored reparations program could heal this national wound and create a new wave of entrepreneurs, impact investors, and workers to bolster the economy while making our country safer, kinder, and more educated for everyone. It would demonstrate to the global community our commitment to justice and equality, and it would place the United States at the international forefront in ethically responsible spending.

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