In mid-2015, diverse leaders around the world -- from government, nonprofit, the civil sector and private industry -- began to rally around the UN Sustainable Development goals in clear recognition of the reality that the problems our world faces are simply too great to solve alone.
One year later, one has only to read the news to understand that global uncertainty seems only to be increasing. During such times, companies have a special role to play in reaffirming their values and owning their power to make a difference. If ever there was a time for leaders to collaborate around the challenges we face as a global community, that time is now.We have seen this imperative with the reaction of several global corporate leaders to developments around the Paris Agreement on climate change. Last year, leaders of 36 corporations made the ultimate commitment to sustainability, voluntarily pledging to transition to 100% renewable energy. The corporations - including Nike, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Salesforce, Starbucks, Steelcase, and Voya Financial - all signed on to The Climate Group’s RE100 pledge, with the hope of showing international governments that businesses are aligned in the effort to divest from fossil fuels. Yet, now the impact represented by these commitments is in question, thanks to promised regulatory changes in the U.S. from President-Elect Trump in his First 100 Days Plan.
In a recent open letter addressed to President-Elect Trump, President Obama, members of the U.S. Congress and global leaders, a group of 360 businesses and investors, called 360+, reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Together, business leaders are an immense power to be reckoned with and companies have a strong voice in shaping our collective future. That’s why it’s never been more important to harness the strengths of companies to be effective changemakers.
But despite the professionalization of corporate social responsibility, private companies remain one of the most underutilized resources for moving the needle on social issues. This isn’t for lack of interest. From the high corridors of the C-Suite to the ground floor of entry level cubicles, the desire by leaders to leverage the power of their companies to make a real difference is immense, and it’s matched by the desire by employees for purpose-filled work and meaningful corporate volunteer opportunities.
Everyone wins when we come together for the common good, by learning about new innovations, sharing best practices, and contributing different strengths to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Tapping into the passionate energies of employees to be ambassadors of goodwill for a company’s brand is an essential part of this equation to achieve social impact that has teeth.
I believe that being a corporate giving and volunteering professional is a calling. Sadly, many servant-leaders in this space are underserved in the current environment - and I find this missed opportunity to be unacceptable.
That’s why I’m so excited to convene some of the brightest lights in the social impact space on December 5th and 6th at Causecast’s +IMPACT conference in San Francisco. While there are other worthy events that target corporate philanthropy, corporate social impact and CSR, we seek to create something new: an innovative, safe space that allows participants to go deeper, to explore both the larger systemic issues that plague our society and to develop the skills required for solving them.
It is our aim to promote diverse, collaborative and cooperative working models, and, in so doing, eliminate barriers for skills development. We see a time when companies, and the employees who power them, are able to quickly and seamlessly mobilize as forces for lasting change.
Practitioners in this space have historically struggled to feel they are making the highest level of contribution they are here to make. +IMPACT exists to support these professionals and unite them around their shared passion for community service and a kinder, more equitable world. Together, we will transform the way companies engage in the business of giving back by building new levels of professional capability, capacity and cooperation so that causes, communities and companies receive the full benefit from their program and partnership investments.
- Capability: Deep awareness around underserved causes and critical issues for enhanced strategy and decision making; practical professional skills development for improved daily performance; insight into technology trends and advancements for future program development.
- Capacity: A growing population of highly skilled, deeply passionate servant-leaders; improved allocation and utilization of key company resources (such as matching dollars and volunteer time off); work-life and self-care skills development to prevent fatigue and burnout.
- Cooperation: An environment that fosters immediate and ongoing community support; an infrastructure that encourages diversity and mutual learning, cooperation and collaboration, and resource maximization.
The +IMPACT speakers we’ve gathered are the ideal group to speak to these 3 c’s and beyond.
As just one of many examples, Jim Starr, President and CEO of America’s Charities, a Causecast partner, will share his insights on how to take employee engagement to the “MAT” with employee giving (Motivating, Asking and Thanking your employees).
“Eighty-eight percent of employers believe effective employee engagement programs help attract and retain employees,” according to America’s Charities’ Snapshot 2015 report, but employee engagement remains one of the thorniest challenges faced by company leaders. While the path to high engagement is complicated, the data is clear: employees expect their companies to be socially responsible and want to participate in this effort. Starr will discuss how to connect effectively into one of the six top trends uncovered in Snapshot 2015: employee giving and volunteer programs as an on-ramp to full employee engagement. (continued below)
The day of +IMPACT will offer a diverse array of voices on innovating for the future of change.
For some raw enlightenment, we’ll join with creative powerhouse Rachel Bagby, Founder of Voicing Your Power, who will engage participants at a profound new level in discovering and voicing our power together. “I am fascinated by what falls away when we are awestruck, to our bones,” Bagby writes. “I am captivated by the fact all of us on earth are literally dancing through the cosmos – we rotate and twirl around the sun, our life-giving tango partner. I am devoted to unlocking leadership wisdom... To stare a transgressor straight in the eye, and say, ‘unacceptable.’ To lift human beings above and beyond concerns of budgetary constraints, timing feasibility, or party-line loyalty, and into a space of pure possibility. Action. Progress. Rhythmic momentum.”
For some concrete inspiration, we’ll dialogue with Matt Bauer, CEO and Co-Founder of Sparrow Mobile, a U.S. wireless company applying the buy-one-give-one model for world change. Sparrow is participating in the White House Call to Action for Private Sector Engagement on the Global Refugee Crisis. Its RefugeeMobile program, backed in part by a MacArthur Discovery Grant, provides new refugees who arrive in the United States with smartphones and apps designed to help them connect with their support network, learn English, find jobs and contribute to their new communities. “The stories we hear from RefugeeMobile participants are heartbreaking, but their resilience is awe inspiring,” Bauer said when the White House participation was announced. “We see an enormous opportunity for improving refugee resettlement services in the U.S. by applying smartphones and modern technology.”
And for some creative innovation, we’ll experience how the next wave of augmented reality is changing the way companies bring stories to life with C. Rich Wilson and Gina Manis-Anderson of Savii Group. Savii Group helps companies tell the story of what they’re doing, track its impact, and take it into a new technicolor direction with rich media and immersive stories that combine new 360-degree video technology with a cinematic experience. Their technique charts a gorgeous new path for brand storytelling and viral impact possibilities that is stunning to behold.
It’s a critical time to harness our knowledge and passions for the good of the world. +IMPACT will inspire, connect, educate, support and celebrate the important work being done in the field of CSR, and help us start 2017 with more focus than ever. I hope you’ll consider joining us in this important conversation and day of collaboration.