Ron Shaich to focus on 'conscious capitalism'

Attention, Wall Street Occupiers: The sort of corporate conscience you’re demanding isn’t alien to the restaurant business, as the trade’s leaders will be reminded at the 2012 Restaurant Leadership Conference. Ron Shaich, co-founder and chairman of Panera Bread Co., will conclude the conference with a presentation on the philosophy he’s instilling in the phenomenally successful chain, a mindset known as conscious capitalism.

Shaich will use his experiences in starting and building Panera to illustrate how a venture can strive for profits—big, big profits—while simultaneously improving the situation of customers, employees and the community. It’s a primer on how to engineer a standout success, measured both in dollars and impact.

The most visible manifestation for Panera, a 1,500-unit bakery-café chain, might be its pay-what-you-want outlets, where patrons are invited to pay what they believe is a far price for the goods and services they receive. Twenty percent reportedly pay more than the suggested amount. Profits from the specialized Panera outlets are donated to charity.

But Panera’s commitment to bettering the communities where it does business doesn’t end there, as Shaich will explain in his keynote address.

Giving back is hardly a notion unknown to attendees of the Restaurant Leadership Conference, an invitation-only event presented by the parent of monkeydish.com, CSP Information Group. Giving back to the community is one of the founding principals of the conference. This year, for instance, attendees will raise funds for Stand Up to Cancer, the campaign to raise money for cancer research.

The RLC is an invitation-only event for top chain executives, both on the franchisor and franchisee side. It is scheduled for March 25-28 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

Shaich is scheduled to wrap up the conference on the 28th.

Other scheduled speakers include Indra Nooyi, the chairman of Pepsico; Ed Rensi, a former president of McDonald’s USA; and Howard Stoeckel, chairman of the Wawa convenience-store chain.

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