Kowalski Companies is a civic business. All stakeholders are obligated to organize, educate and set policy according to democratic principles and standards. We do this in partnership with other demonstrations of the Midwest Active Citizenship Initiative to renew and sustain democracy and to create a world that is abundant and just.
You may have read the Kowalski's Identity Statement (above) on our paper bags, store signs and here in this magazine, but do you know what a civic business is?
A civic business builds the capacity of business institutions to develop active citizens and civic leaders within their organizations.
Kowalski's leaders see the need for a new business model that develops civic imagination, civic capacity, and the civic infrastructure needed for democracy to be a just system of governance. Our leaders choose to identify as civic organizers and teach others the practice of civic governing. It's in this way that we see our business as a learning institution.
People who come to work at Kowalski's will experience this learning institution as something new and different. Often there's a certain amount of surprise and satisfaction that we ask all stakeholders, even those in entry-level positions, to be involved in policy-making and to contribute to promoting justice and the common good in the workplace. Civic principles, standards, disciplines and skills are at the core of how we teach and practice civic governing.
- One of the most important principles is Active Citizenship, the obligation of the citizen to contribute to the governing process.
- Decision-making standards include involving the right stakeholders in defining problems and crafting solutions, or policies.
- A key discipline taught to every employee is the public meeting strategy, which incorporates agendas, meeting purpose statements and meeting evaluations.
- Citizens use political skills in the process of governing. Such skills include suspending judgment, asking open-ended questions and clarifying assumptions.
While stakeholders use civic principles, standards, disciplines and skills to meet our business goals, we hope and expect to see our employees take what they have learned with them outside the walls of our company. We encourage our stakeholders to help create a new approach to policy-making in the greater world, where current approaches are lacking. Even as stakeholders move on to new employers or occupations, we are confident they will bring the concept of civic organizing and civic policy-making to any place they spend time and have influence, including businesses, schools, clubs, neighborhoods, families, community organizations and so on.
This is how we renew and sustain democracy and work towards our goal of a world that is truly abundant and just.
You can learn more about what it means to be a civic business at activecitizen.org.