By Bernadette Hopen, Branding & Community Associate at Inspiring Capital
I love working at a social enterprise; I’m one of the lucky few that feels empowered by their work! I know I’m apart of something important, impactful, and desperately needed-- I work in the social impact sector. Here business is mission-drive and purposeful, acknowledging the role of business in the broader social and environmental world context.
This work is powerful and important… it’s also the perfect time to get involved. Here’s why you shouldn’t wait another day to jump in.
Governments are slow to enact change.
Only about five percent of bills and resolutions introduced to Congress will be signed into law. There’s a lot of talk about immigration, global warming, equality… but, how much change is actually taking place? With constant news stories that allude to corruption, scandal, and dishonesty, the “politics of politics” often stalls governments from implementing positive change. Now more than ever, businesses have the power to affect social change quickly.
For example, on September 20, Category 5 Hurricane Maria, wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico. Over 3.4 million people were left without power. The government responded painfully slowly, while private companies immediately acted. Tesla sent solar paneled batteries, UPS shipped food, and Google, JetBlue, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Verizon, and dozens more, pledged money to rebuild the island.
We no longer live in a world where companies can ignore the reach and influence they have and this is a great thing! Social impact work allows you to shape the way companies step up to the plate and take on this responsibility. Corporations are people... it's time they act like responsible ones.
The movement is growing.
Whether it’s the $114 billion in impact investing last year, or the proliferation of Benefit Corporations (B Corps) this year, you can't ignore this powerful movement. There are over 2,300 B Corps, in over 50 countries, across 130 industries, including some big names like: Warby Parker, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever, Etsy, Inspiring Capital. All of these companies are focused on creating long term impact without sacrificing the bottom line.
I believe that within ten years every Fortune 500 company will need to have some sort of CSR initiative, social impact branch, or wide spread impact model (i.e. B Corp) in place if they want to remain relevant and competitive.
Social impact isn’t going anywhere. Using business as a force for good can become the standard of the business world and why wouldn’t you want to be apart of that?
You can shape an industry.
Social impact in the business sector, on this scale, is still relatively new. This means that there are some growing pains; the industry is in the process of shaping itself. There are major foundational questions that still need to be answered.
How do you measure impact? How does CSR fit into this world? What’s the responsibility of businesses in their communities? Is there a gold standard? Which traditional business practices need to be re-evaluated? How can non-profits learn from social enterprises? What can corporations learn from non-profits?
By getting involved now, you have the opportunity to be an early adaptor or an industry leader. It’s not very often you can help shape the future of an industry.
The business world has everything to gain by supporting the social impact movement, and the rest of the world has everything to lose if we don’t.