CEO and co-founder of Sparta Global – Company B Corp HTD. The UK’s 50 most ambitious business leaders. Top 100 Asian Tech Stars.
Social impact is quickly becoming a non-negotiable business commitment and a fundamental value of high-growth companies. Purpose-driven organizations that have established ways to positively impact society can benefit from a reputation as a socially conscious brand, create new opportunities with aligned partners, and experience improvements in employee engagement, talent acquisition, innovation and creativity.
In 2014, I co-founded a hiring, training, and implementation (HTD) company that sought to bridge the digital skills gap by hiring and training people from underrepresented communities for careers in technology. Our standing as a social impact company has grown organically since then, becoming the first certified B Corp organization in the HTD space and winning numerous other awards that showcase our purpose beyond profit. I understand firsthand how adopting social impact initiatives in a commercial business has driven us forward and why more companies should take social impact seriously for business success. Here are the steps they can take to do so.
Make a statement of purpose.
Every organization has a mission statement, but do you have a purpose statement? This is a concise explanation of what motivates your company to exist beyond profit.
The first step to making a social impact is recognizing whether this is something you already do for the people you serve, and then taking steps to understand how to do it better and on a more impactful scale. The next step is to tell your community – made up of employees, customers, suppliers and investors – what your renewed intentions are. Make your motivations public and be responsible. Post your statement on your website, on social media and in all important materials.
Organizations truly committed to making a social impact will be transparent in their mission and reporting.
Measure your impact.
Stating intent is a good start, but now you must measure the impact of your positive actions. Define how you will do this by setting up key KPIs, which can be differentiated for your own organization or industry. The way a recruiter can measure your social impact will be completely different from the way a community food bank will track yours.
If inspiration is needed, the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) provide a relevant, clear and motivating comparison. These goals are “designed to serve as a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future” and include gender equality, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, and much more.
Through proactive self-assessment, you can consistently track your organization’s social impact, identify areas for improvement, and report on developments. Whether you set your own KPIs or follow the SDG framework to establish clear areas of focus, you can also use these goals to set a precedent for how you expect your broader network of suppliers, customers, and investors to operate.
Invest in the right people.
While social impact initiatives can be introduced by founders or an individual leader, they simply won’t be achieved without an aligned employee network.
All employees must understand an organization’s social initiatives and contribute to their success. While educating current employees supports eradicating behaviors that don’t contribute to your social impact KPIs, it’s also critical that new hires are committed to their employer’s purpose. Successful social impact companies will make their initiatives and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion clear throughout their hiring process and understand the negative impact of hiring people with alternative values.
Build a passionate team.
The benefits of becoming a social impact business are significant, but the tokenism is obvious. The reality is that many companies contribute only superficially. More than 150,000 companies have applied for B Corp status, but in the UK there are only 1,500 certified companies. The truth is that many companies simply aren’t as “good” as they think they are.
To take social impact seriously, you must build a team focused on making it a priority. It’s great to leverage current employees who are passionate about charitable work, educating others about climate change, or working with minority groups, but don’t isolate these people into employee resource groups and allow them to contribute to your organization’s social impact only. based on goodwill. Give them social impact KPIs within their role, give them time to focus on driving social value efforts and reward their progressive actions.
These are the first steps for a company looking to contribute to positive social change. With these foundations, companies can then develop charitable partnerships, commit to more ambitious ESG or CSR goals, and explore more ways to truly make a difference.
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