Driving Social Impact at Traditional Companies

If we could all work for progressive companies with environmental sustainability goals, human rights policies for their suppliers and paternity leave, all while achieving quarter over quarter revenue growth, we probably would. However, many of the employees most passionate about creating lasting social change through profit driven companies work for organizations that are stuck in tradition: profit is the only bottom line. As a change maker, this is the perfect position to be in to truly drive social impact in the community (global or local) and create a cultural shift within the company that values the triple bottom line.

I work for one such traditional company and am driven to do my job effectively (I am not in a formal CSR or sustainability role) while creating goals and metrics for purpose driven policies internally and in my community.

Overcome with energy to create a purpose within my brokerage firm, I started by assessing our employee policies and our community engagement by utilizing the free B-Corp Assessment. This assessment is comprehensive and measures a variety of areas of the organization such as profit sharing and retirement policies for employees, parental leave, environmental sustainability, community engagement, hiring and training practices, diversity and many more aspects.

After completing the assessment, B-Corp provides insight on the scores per section and ways to improve the score. The recommendations are segregated by level difficulty to implement, which is extremely helpful when approaching management with policy change recommendations. In fact, many of the changes your organization can make to be a purpose-driven company are not only low cost to implement, but can actually save money for your organization. The misconception with purpose-driven companies can sometimes be that these organizations are only for Silicon Valley-type companies with adult playgrounds and multi-million dollar charitable foundations. Sure, renovating office space to be LEED-certified or 401(k) matching is costly and would require long term financial planning, but other initiatives aren’t: prioritizing a certain percentage of new hires to be made from areas in the community with historically lower income; Dedicating a percentage of outsourced professional services to be provided by minority-owned businesses (attorneys, computer programmers, auditors) does not add any cost to the organization but sends a strong message to the community and the employees that the company cares about creating opportunity and enhancing the livelihood of the community that has helped the company grow.

Currently, I am an army of one within my company related to social impact policies. However, after implementing practices and policies within my professional scope and dropping small crumbs of ideas to other department heads within my organization, I can feel a momentum slowly building within my firm. I’m practicing guerilla activism; a slow infiltration of for-purpose practices into a traditionally-minded corporation that will eventually be a key pillar.