–> Who: Scott Henderson, managing director of CauseShift,…
–> What: …shares his thoughts on why companies need to Scott Henderson shares why companies need to stop treating their social impact functions like insurance policies and start integrating them to turn them into major drivers for market innovation.
–> How: Read this post.
This past weekend, I attended the Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) at Yale University, hosted by Unite for Sight. It was my second time attending to present a workshop and deliver a main stage presenation. Each time, I have walked away impressed with the caliber and breadth of innovators Unite for Sight gathers for the two-day program. Mark your calendars for the 10th annual GHIC next year April 13-14.
As I listened to various presenters and spoke with a wide swath of attendees, I was struck by the difference between people starting new ventures versus incumbent organizations grappling with the fundamental shifts happening in the world. What I heard and saw reminded me about what I wrote in this piece for the MIT Sloan Management Review: corporations will need to take an integrated approach to their social impact in the connected marketplace
You Need to Bring It Together
I think corporations have to respond to the rising expectations of the marketplace by finding ways to integrate their social impact. You can’t silo and fragment your company’s impact anymore. It doesn’t make any sense to have CSR, corporate philanthropy, and cause marketing each operating on their own as if they were just insurance policies against corporate misdeeds, instead of making social impact the driving force of your company’s market innovations.
You need to start by bringing the social impact into the executive suite and its every day conversations. Imagine you were starting your company from scratch and look at the marketplace with what you know now:
- You need talent. Talented people want to make a difference. They will stay with you longer and be more engaged in their work if you make it easy for them to make that difference.
- You need customers. Customers want to do business with companies who share their values.
- You need a supply chain that is sustainable – economically and ecologically. Apple learned the hard way.
- You can grow markets by addressing social issues. Danone and Nike understand this and are leading the way in Bangladesh.
- You no longer own a monopoly on communications. Everyone has a voice and can shine a bright light on your deeds.
- You can attract champions online by giving them great things to talk about you in their own way.
Knowing these realities, why would you create separate functional groups for your CSR, corporate philanthropy, and cause marketing? And why would you completely overlook the huge potential of engaging your employees and letting them bring their good deeds to work?
The answer is to reorganize these functions under one umbrella: Integrated Impact. A senior executive with a full team needs to lead this effort and have strong integration with your marketing and corporate strategy. This cannot be some middle level executive tasked with a support function. You need to give this person a seat at the executive team meeting and the budget to bring these functions together.
You need to challenge this executive with finding market innovations, because they have their finger on the pulse of your customers, the social issues that are holding you back from greater market opportunities, how your employees want to make a difference, and ways to align your supply chain better. Then, you need to compensate them for what they achieve.
- Compensate them for the innovations and intellectual property they help bring to market.
- Compensate them for the caliber of talent they help attract and retain.
- Compensate them for the market share they increase.
- Compensate them for the savings they help create in your supply chain.
Okay, enough about why I think. What do you think?