Greg Massey: Conscious capitalism

“Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.” These words come from the credo of Conscious Capitalism, a way of thinking that recognizes the enormous potential of businesses to make a positive impact on the world. As a leader, it’s a philosophy that I strongly adhere to.

In banking, we help people finance their homes, start businesses that will employ other people and save money for rainy days. However, our decisions can’t be based on self-interest. Why put a customer into a home that’s 20% more than they can afford? It will only cause them stress.

“Even more” means taking capitalism to a higher level, focusing on the bigger picture and the long-term welfare of all our stakeholders: our customers, employees, community members and shareholders alike.

At First United Bank & Trust Co., we ask ourselves this: How do we inspire and empower others to spend life wisely? How do we give people the tools they need to make wise choices?

We use the words “love” and “impact” as the core tenets of our culture. We’ve learned from our employees that when they feel valued in the workplace, they want their team to be more successful. When our employees do work that has a positive impact on the community, they go home at night feeling less stressed, and that in turn has a positive impact on their family life.

Community banks are conscious businesses by nature, because they have such a strong stakeholder orientation. Every community banker I know loves their community, their employees and their customers. That’s why they’re in community banking. Purpose and core values are already in place, and sometimes it’s just a matter of putting them down on paper.

That can be a powerful first step. When you’re hiring and making big decisions, it gives you something to turn to and say, “This is what we’re looking for.” It becomes the center of how you manage your daily decisions. Aligning your purpose and values helps as you grow.

When you have a conscious culture, talented bankers and customers want to be part of it. So, we work really hard to share what we’re learning with influential people in our community by inviting them to leadership classes and other events. And, as we’ve noticed, that creates a ripple effect throughout the community.

We’re now bookended by two generations: the older generation, who have been through life’s journeys and know the importance of compassion, and the younger generation, who care in a big way about what companies are doing to this world.

Conscious capitalism is a format that creates value for all of these stakeholders by putting positive change for the entire community front and center.

Greg Massey is president and CEO of $7 billion-asset First United Bank & Trust Co. in Oklahoma and Texas. He is a board member of the organization Conscious Capitalism.