Brenda Kali’s Conscious Companies was a scribble on a page in the middle of the night after she had emerged from deep meditation. It set her on a journey to build conscious leadership capacity in a country bereft of it.
Conscious Companies, an enterprise that would have an impact not only on her life but on countless other organisations to align people, planet and profit in service of all stakeholders. It helped change the thinking and motivation of business leaders and organisations.
What sets Conscious Companies apart is that through its annual awards and recognition of conscious leaders who function with a purpose, it holds organisations accountable to create sustainability in its financial, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, cultural, physical and ecological wealth for both its internal and external stakeholders.
Kali maintains corporate behaviour and culture take their cues from their leaders. They have to answer questions which tackle important issues in the workplace. Why does this business exist, how can we create more value for all of our stakeholders, how can we create a workplace of meaning, productivity and joy and, in the process, transform and uplift society?
A trailblazer in the field of reputational turnaround and conscious leadership, Kali, an author and motivational speaker, has for the past three years staged the Conscious Companies Awards, which celebrate visionary leaders and organisations who heed the call to create a “conscious business environment”.
But who is Kali the woman, whose passion and foresight is helping change the business landscape?
From humble beginnings, Kali has tackled the world, stamping her authority on every project she has undertaken – and there have been many.
She wrote a book, Beyond Corporate Sludge: Insights to Create Balance and Harmony in the Workplace.
In an interview, Kali underlines her philosophy: “When you fear something you block your very core, your very system. You have to surrender totally to the universe, allow the energy to flow and to give you balance.
“We are all energy beings and as energy beings this can be accomplished. Vincent Peale spoke about positive thinking, but it encompasses much more than that.
“Only now at this stage in my life can I realise what has happened. I landed in Johannesburg from Durban at the age of 17 with a few rands in my pocket. When I think of how I have been guided, whatever I thought and believed in just came to pass.
“I have experienced pain as well as tragedy when my daughter was involved in a car accident many years ago and was in a 10-month long coma. The doctors said she was going to die. I didn’t give up and surrendered to cosmic intelligence or whatever was out there. Today, 20 years later, I live to tell the tale. She has developed into a beautiful human being and she is a gifted artist.
“When I think of this journey, this is pure manifestation, as I willed my child to live.”
Kali says she also manifested her Conscious Companies initiative. It came out of the blue but it needed to be done because of the toxic environment manifesting in the country.
It has taken three years for it to become a reality.
At the recent launch of the Conscious Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, Kali told guests that it was not every day that someone could see their vision become reality.
“To give context, I was 19 when, a week after my marriage, my then husband asked me what I wanted to do. My response was ‘to uplift consciousness’ and he just laughed at me, replying that it was not a career. ‘I don’t even know what that means,’ he told me,” she says.
Kali herself did not know what it meant until she entered the corporate space.
“From these experiences I gleaned from the corporate system for over 35 years, I had the opportunity to observe the workings of a group of people, who come together in daily labour at a company in exchange for security and a pay cheque,” she said.
“There is probably no greater display of human behaviour than in the workplace and the sociopolitical system where we have made it okay to trample others to get what we want. We have used our positional power not to uplift or influence and inspire, but to bully, loot and acquire.”