What Is A VP Of Social Impact, And Why Should We Care?
The Good Trade connected with leaders at the Social Innovation Summit 2019 to talk about how today’s organizations are shifting towards greater social impact. Here’s what we learned from some of the most influential leaders in the social impact space.
The role of a social impact executive often signifies an organization’s commitment to social consciousness.
Today’s consumers are activists—and today’s employees are activists. Companies that are unwilling to commit to sustainability and ethics-based initiatives risk losing customer support—64% of employees are unwilling to take a job at a company that does not demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility. Sustainability and social impact are no longer an add-on value, but an imperative objective to be woven into the fabric of a successful organization. As the conversation around social impact becomes increasingly mainstream, organizations of all sizes are adopting new strategies to measure and expand their positive social and environmental impacts.
Corporate Social Impact Leaders & Initiatives
A recent position at many companies, the role of a social impact executive signifies an organization’s commitment to social consciousness. Typically, a Vice President of Social Impact acts as a leading director of a company’s mission to integrate ethics and sustainability into the fabric and framework of their business.
Mike Masserman, Head of Global Policy & Social Impact at Lyft, describes his role and the role of their social impact team. He says it is to oversee ”all of the values-based work happening throughout the company to ensure we have coordinated efforts, and then to provide programmatic structure and strategic guidance.” Lyft’s company mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation; Masserman is leading the charge to ensure developing transportation infrastructure and creating a clean energy future is an essential priority for the company.
For John Kelly, Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs & Social Impact at Starbucks, it is Starbucks’ 380,000 employees around the world whose feedback have resulted in sustainability being a key pillar in their company agenda. Kelly is leading Starbucks’ initiatives towards reducing plastics and eliminating straws while also working to identify the next generation of recyclable and compostable hot cup solutions. He says, “We’re continuing to look at additional ways we can play a leadership role in doing more around climate change and using our scale for good as we aim to build the world’s largest green retail business.”
Jennifer Gootman, Vice President of Social Consciousness & Innovation at West Elm, heads up their industry-leading integration of fair trade and ethically handmade products into the mainstream. She is convinced we are in the midst of a major change in global supply chains. She believes that investing in Fair Trade production practices leads to stronger relationships with vendors who create higher quality products and keep traditional techniques alive. “It’s not a panacea, but it’s a step in the right direction, and big changes start small.”
Why It Matters
A robust and dedicated social impact team can be a healthy signifier of the intentions of an organization to make social impact and sustainability a priority. Whether you are looking to be a more educated consumer, join a new team at a new organization, or are curious about innovations in a specific industry, a company’s leading social impact team is a good place to start to glean insight on their social impact values and agenda.
AmyAnn Cadwell is CEO & Co-Founder of The Good Trade and an angel investor in mission-driven companies.