As someone who works with brands and social entrepreneurs, with nonprofit leaders and governments, I’ve come to realize that to solve some of our biggest societal problems, we need to focus on lasting change. Investments in poverty alleviation, or climate change, or health improvements or gender equity don’t always consider how systems will operate once those investments dry up. Short term-ism is a detriment to all of our work in development. Yet many investments in community development or infrastructure are capped at five to ten years.
What we need instead is long term-ism. We need entities that are prepared to invest for the duration, and build out systems that benefit not only the communities in need, but themselves. The need for this dual benefit cannot be ignored.
See, for decades, companies were seen as conglomerates simply out to make money and provide products for consumption. While some of those aims have not changed, the role of business leaders within companies is evolving, and an interest in improving our planet is shifting the mission of many companies. This is particularly true as more leaders learn how to guide their teams with empathy.
How has this evolution taken shape, and what does it mean for the future of global companies? How can companies build on this progress and make significant change in the world, while still being profitable and successful? How has the definition of success changed for companies? How have they imbedded the humanistic view that comes with seeing how the rest of the world lives?
These are some of the questions I attempt to answer in my new book, Purposeful Profits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact, out for pre-sale December 1.
Purposeful Profits was born from several necessities. First, I had to develop a more positive relationship with publishing (exactly two weeks before the release of my first book, ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact, I learned that my publisher, who I had been working with for more than a year, had shuts its doors with no notice, leaving me and many other authors on our own with no clue how to launch a book.) Second I felt compelled to share the stories of some of the incredible people and companies I have encountered over the years, and what's more, help propel the notion that companies can both make money, and do a lot of good for our planet. Both are important. Both are necessary. And both are possible.
Purposeful Profits provides first-hand accounts from those working inside successful companies, large and small, local and global, as to how this evolution has taken shape, what it means for the future of business profitability, and why being a business that is purpose-driven is as important as any other measure of success.
Some of the inspiring leaders I profile include Shannon Keith, Founder of Sudara, a company dedicated to improving the lives of women in India. Shannon’s story is about a life-altering trip that helped define her personal and professional mission. You’ll meet Shayne Tyler, a steadfast advocate for fair labor practices in the United Kingdom, who effectively transformed the issue from being ignored, to being prioritized by some of the biggest companies in the world. Erin O’Hara with Numi Tea shares the powerful emotions that come from being amongst the tea growers, and recognizing the critical role they play in the final product. I tell the story of Pierrette Djemain, a business owner and mentor to many women in Benin, transforming the moringa supply chain in the West African country. Marcy Twete shares her journey from small town girl to big city change maker, and how she re-shaped corporate priorities towards social impact and environmental responsibility. You will read about the history of Milton Hershey, and how The Hershey Company rests its laurels on the values of philanthropy and social equity, told through the lens of Tawiah Agyarko-Kwarteng, who ensures a strong and viable relationship between Hershey and cocoa communities in Ghana. Tawiah’s history helps us see the difference between giving back for its own sake, versus acting upon a mission to change the world. Finally, you will meet Arthur Karuletwa, who as a former child refugee was thrust into the social and political complexities of the Rwandan genocide, grew up to reinvigorate the Rwandan economy through the coffee trade, and bring new life and hope to his people.
I am grateful to share these, and other stories, to showcase how decision making with empathy and purpose can transform a corporation from one solely seeking to make money, into one that is successful both for its profits, but also for its impact.
Read more about Purposeful Profits and pre-order the book at PurposefulProfits.com
Joanne Sonenshine is Founder of Connective Impact, and Author ofPurposefulProfits: Inside Successful Businesses Making a Positive Global Impact, and ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact.
RELEASED TODAY: The Social Progress Index Tells Us Way More About Ourselves Than Just Social Progress
As Posted On LinkedIn:
Any of you that track economic development, and the trajectory of advancement around issues like human health, poverty and food security, should be familiar with the Social Progress Index. The Index, formulated in 2014 by the Social Progress Imperative, a brain child of famed Harvard mind Michael Porter, is used too measure and evaluate social progress in our global society on an annual basis. Considering to augment (or perhaps replace if some of us had our way) the current method for measuring social and economic advancement, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Social Progress Index defines social progress as "the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential."
With its 2018 release today, one can see quite clearly that our path to 100% social progress and full, global potential, is somewhat far off. In fact our own country, one we consider quite advanced in terms of our ability to provide for its people, is ranked 25th. Looking at the results overall, of the 146 countries measured, only 15 have scores above 88. More than 100 are below 79. What this tells us is that we have a lot of work to do to move the needle on issues of importance to our global prosperity. Despite recent reports that poverty, for example, has improved, clearly issues like access to high quality education, technology, or even basic needs like shelter are not completely resolved. Prosperity must innovate along with the rest of development.
The Social Progress Index measures much more than economic prowess or opportunity for growth, however. Looking at issues like personal safety and nutrition along the same axis as access to information and communications, and personal freedom and choice, allows us to see bigger pictures of need. Take the United States for example. Our highest component scores? water, sanitation, nutrition, basic medical care and shelter. Our lowest? Access to advanced education, environmental quality, personal safety and inclusiveness. Our Foundations of Wellbeing Score? Only 84. Looking at the Netherlands, for comparison's sake, is interesting. Ranking in 7th place, the Netherlands had scores above 95 for Basic Human Needs and Foundation of Wellbeing, but only 79 for Opportunity.
Embarking on a path to address each country's needs is critical. The Social Progress Index allows us to unpack each country's most pressing challenges, and work collaboratively to solve them. We stand by to join forces with global companies, governments, entrepreneurs and civil society to collectively improve our planet, one social progress score at a time.
I have the distinct honor of facilitating a panel discussion this Wednesday at the Climate Action Summit, sponsored by the Climate Collaborative and New Hope Network in conjunction with the always anticipated Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. We’ll discuss innovations around climate impact, translating nascent ideas into action, and how bottom up and top down leadership inspires new and creative ways to think about climate commitments.
When asked to lead this session, it was a no brainer for me. Not just because I love what panelists from Mom’s Organic Market, Organic Valley and Badger Balm are doing, but because I also love the concept of the Climate Collaborative, and view the Natural Products industry as one of the most forward thinking and actionable in the space of partnerships for social and environmental impact.
What better way to encourage the types of partnerships we like to build at Connective Impact, than support collaborations that truly make a difference?
The Climate Collaborative, for example, nary 18 months old, is a coalition of more than 100 manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and other businesses within the natural foods industry “working collaboratively to take bold action to reverse climate change. “ Over time the Collaborative intends to create “big and bold change” from within the natural food products space, which is growing fast, but still makes up only 5% of consumption. Natural and organic food is an 80 billion dollar business, with a bright future and opportunities to make transformational change. What makes the natural foods industry even more attractive, at least in our eyes, is their willingness to partner and collaborate as they have under the Climate Collaborative.
Another example of pre-competitive collaboration can be found in the work of the One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community (OSC2), a group of emerging leaders in the mission-driven natural food products space, including Numi Tea, REBBL, Guyaki, Happy Family and Alter Eco. The group came together in 2012 to create a coalition force for good, building regenerative business models in their farming and agricultural practices. Their focus on regenerative agriculture was the first of its kind, and has made the topic a mainstay within the natural products discussions. It will certainly be a popular session at Expo East this week. The OSC2 has also begun a concerted effort to focus on compostable packaging among its members and others, as well as discussions on the future of food and Drawdown.
Many natural foods brands have engaged in innovative and creative bilateral partnerships to move the needle on social and environmental issues. Chobani, for example, has partnered with some of the biggest brands like Clif Bar (to fund grain research), Save the Children (to focus on underserved youth populations in the U.S. in need of nutrition), and started the Tent Partnership for Refugees to address refugee challenges worldwide. Being proactive in partnership building seems to be a given within the natural products sector. I am so encouraged by this, and when speaking with natural food company leaders, I’m thrilled with how willing and open they are to consider partnerships and collaboration, particularly around some of the more challenging issues these growing companies face. They recognize that by prioritizing sustainability in their operations, they must consider the role of their brands impacting our planet and communities, and that issues like climate change, waste, sustainable energy and other issues many are collaborating around like living wage and gender equity require all of us working together in concert.
Are you a natural product company looking to engage with more partners? Let us know and we’ll swing by your booth to chat. You may find the tools on our website helpful as well.
by Zach Weismann
Whether you work for a nonprofit, corporation or start-up, odds are you’ve engaged with a brand strategy, communications or public relations (PR) agency.
In the universe of agencies, there are those that offer creative services, advertising support, PR, marketing, design, website user experience and consumer awareness. The options seem endless.
There are also scopes of work and proposals to be written, sprints, pitches, and presentations to prepare, RFPs, RFIs and many other abbreviations to understand.
Not only can executing a project itself be overwhelming, but finding the right agency to help deliver on your organizational needs is exhausting. The process can cost you and your company more than you realize.
Think about your last experience with an agency. Let’s say you had a $50,000 budget and you shared your proposal with 10 agencies. First you had to research and vet the 10 agencies. Then each of the agencies submitted their proposals and probably also made pitches (virtual and/or in person). Then you selected finalists. Perhaps you met in person a few times, held numerous phone calls, and executive leadership got involved to hear pitches and ultimately helped select the winning agency.
In many cases, if you totaled up your true costs, including overhead and time, I’d be willing to bet you spent the entire $50,000, if not more, of your allocated budget on the selection process alone.
What happens once you finally select an agency, they begin the work, and you know a few months into the engagement you aren’t satisfied with the results? Are you going to start from scratch?
Probably not. You’ll think of the $50,000 you spent on the process of selection, realize you can’t justify losing that investment by spending it again on another search, and ultimately you end up with a sub-par campaign, website or deliverable. You are left wondering why the results didn’t have the anticipated effect.
Rinse and repeat.
It’s not to say that there aren’t some very talented agencies out there doing outstanding work. For example, we love the work of Oliver Russell, Eat Well Global, The Black Sheep Agency, and Pursuant, just to name a few.
But the selection and RFP process is extremely time consuming, costly, and often leads to unsatisfied customers, missed deadlines, and unfulfilled promises.
That’s where Connective Impact can help.
Connective Impact specializes in creating partnerships and designing partnership strategies. With 40+ years experience among our partners, we have helped non-profits, foundations, large brands, and start-ups by bridging their goal gaps and finding more productive partnerships, thus yielding greater impact.
We are excited to bring this expertise to the creative space and to the agency selection process.
Connective Impact’s agency partnership process can greatly reduce the time (and therefore cost) of your proposal processes, help connect you to the right agencies that can truly deliver on what you need, vet partners for you, and help create a strategy for maximizing your return on investment to achieve your social, environmental and economic development goals. This enables you and your team to focus on what’s truly important – making a difference.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Email me today to start the conversation.
WHAT CONNECTIONS CAN WE MAKE TODAY?
We love to share our thoughts on the connections contributing to improving our planet. If you are interested in submitting a guest blog, we'd love to share your thoughts as well.