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Sunday, March 26, 2023

People and the environment before profit: The Economy for the Common Good

The Economy for the Common Good movement was founded in 2010 by Austrian journalist Christian Felber and now has members all over the world. It aims to create an alternative to the capitalist market economy: Money and markets should serve the people and not vice versa. Instead of just economic growth, the aim is to constantly increase the common good. The well-being of the people can again move more towards the center of economic activity.

The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is based on values such as honesty, cooperation, solidarity, appreciation, and trust. Companies support each other instead of competing with each other. Thus, success is no longer measured by financial profit, but by the goals a company sets itself. These could include, for example, employee satisfaction and opportunities for participation, fair cooperation with suppliers or the sustainable investment of profits. The points system of the common good balance allows for companies and products to become transparent and more easily compared with each other.

Newcomer with great ambitions in the Havelland region

The Landgut Stober in Groß Behnitz has been part of the Economy for Common Good since 2018 and the hotel achieved the highest new entry in Common Good certification with 690 points. “This once again confirms that the conference hotel assumes a special responsibility for the social, ecological and economic restructuring of society,” says owner Michael Stober. The Landgut Stober has been an agricultural model estate since 1866 and already practiced corporate social responsibility at that time. This tradition has been actively continued since the purchase of the demolished ruin in 2000.

Based on the vision of Christian Felber, the founder of Economy for the Common Good, the Landgut Stober today stands for a new economic and value community. This vision is consistently implemented at the Landgut Stober and thus great importance is attached to the ecological, humane, solidary and fair organization of the company.

This can be seen, for example, in the transparent handling of company profits, a fixed portion of which is donated to charitable institutions and reinvested. Employees also receive improved social benefits and higher salaries. Another part is used for special loan repayments and then only the remaining portion goes to the owner, who bears the entire entrepreneurial and financial risk. At the Landgut Stober, the focus is not on profit maximization, but on the sense of purpose of the company.

People and nature at the center of activity

At the Biohotel Grafenast in Austria, the focus is on people and nature as well. Sustainable business management has been a core theme of the founding family Unterlechner for many years. In cooperation with two other Tyrolean bio-hotels and a business mentor, the family – after more than 80 hours of analysis and work – has been able to produce its first Common Good report for the business year 2015/2016 and have evaluated the hotel.

A lot has happened since that time, but the Biohotel Grafenast also has a lot of plans! They are working to improve the relationship management with suppliers, to integrate the operating environment into the process of the Common Good balance sheet and to make the balance sheet results more transparent for guests.

A sustainable hotel for the benefit of all

The eco-family-hotel Gut Nisdorf also measures its Common Good balance and its contribution to the common good of a democratic society. For the owner couple Jürg Gloor and Sabine Stange, the focus is on working sustainably and for the benefit of all. “Developing a balance sheet for the common good is an excellent way of thinking about all aspects of one’s business in a detailed and targeted manner,” says Sabine Stange. In four very intensive meetings, the two of them and three other organic hotels in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg worked out the matrix for each of the businesses.

“It changes the way we think and act a great deal. Everything is questioned. Is what I buy and do fair, ecologically sound and sustainable?” Sabine explains the process. “It goes so far that if there is no justifiable solution or product, the project is not carried out at all. We also deliberately buy from companies that also have an ECG balance sheet. With this, we know that companies are acting correctly and align with our interests. We cannot imagine a different way of thinking. The financial aspect is no longer in the foreground, but it is important how I and my environment feel about my actions.”.

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