What I Learned When I Tried To Change The World.
Making A Social Impact
At Future State, we wake up every day to enable extraordinary visions that positively impact the world. We are a consultancy that helps companies do good better. We roll up our sleeves and do the heavy lifting required to implement ideas and strategies. We are making real change with a focus on individuals and teams. Our clients include the great brands who want to be leaders of profitable and sustainable companies, and we sleep well at night knowing we did something to make the world a little better.
Using Business As Force Of Good
Last year we decided to become a Certified B Corporation. Certified B Corporations (B Corps) are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The B Corp’s simple, yet ambitious vision resonated with us: People using business as a force for good.
The Opportunity And Struggle Is Real
In 2016, we were recognized as a Certified B Corporation Best for the World Company for our attention to making our company an inspiring and worker-centered place to work. We were recognized for our 100% employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), our flexible work policy, and our volunteerism and community giving programs. I was humbled, excited, and at the same time, a bit torn as I had hoped to do so much more in 2016.
I am proud of how dearly my company holds true to our vision, but not unlike my clients living a vision and executing something actionable challenges me every day. My calendar is consumed with the mechanics of running our company daily. We faced some financial challenges, and we did not escape without having to make a few layoffs. The pain that we caused to team members we love and care for was really tough on everyone. How can we be “Best for Workers” while making these challenging business decisions? This tough time led to some extraordinary conversations and commitments about how we want to plan, operate, and hire to mitigate these risks better in the future. And how we will behave and treat our teams when these decisions need to be made. It turns out I have a change management and adoption challenge of my own.
Despite these challenges, we did expand our impact portfolio this year, working with local non-profits and social enterprises to help them achieve their Future State. The exciting opportunity ahead of us is to move from having an impact “portfolio” to having a profound impact in our community and in the world through all of our daily work.
Do Less, Achieve More
So I head into 2017, with a few lessons learned, a steadfast determination, and a renewed empathy for my clients leading change. This year I am trying to do less, but achieve more. This may sound counter intuitive, but I know from our client work that clear direction and focus it critical to executing complex concepts.
My 2017 Focus
- Build Culture: Continue to invest in our people and our culture, demonstrate that there is room for profits and people. I have pledged to increase my focus on the intentional act of being inclusive. It is bringing more people and ideas to the table to mirror the communities we work in. It is looking broader at who will be the next voice to shape the future of responsible businesses.
- Build Community: Visibly model behaviors and build business models that build long-term financial, environmental, and social sustainability into our business DNA. This is true for my company and my clients. We need shared stories of success to test the thinking of conventional business models. It is not a methodology that will make this work; it is engagement with each other around the possibilities.
- Start A Movement: I am fortunate to live in one of the most innovative places in the world, this will be my lab. Think globally but act locally – we have to make this work in my company and community to make this work on a larger scale. I am thrilled to be on the Board for the Bay Area Council. In that capacity, I commit to be a vocal participant, drive conversations around our leadership and accountability to society, equity and inclusion, and sustainability. We must lead here in the SF Bay Area, in the B Corp Community, in California, and we must make sure that our voices as 21st century business leaders are heard, and serve as a new model for corporate social responsibility.
This year I will also borrow some best practices from my client experiences and take a little of my own medicine. This year I will have a focused and intentional plan for change.
Help Each Other Be Better
There are so many inspiring voices that I will continue to look to for guidance and innovation. People such as Kat Taylor and the team at Beneficial State Bank, the team behind the Google Code Next center at Fruitvale Station, and Marc Benioff, whose financial commitment to educational opportunities for Oakland students is a model for business leadership.
I also look to my peers at non-profit and government agencies that are doing such important work, such as the Kapor Center, The Unity Council, Policy Link, SPUR, East Oakland Building Healthy Communities, and the East Oakland Youth Development Center, among others. I will also continue to engage with our local B Corp community, and learn and grow from this extraordinary community.
I am in good company and among friends, and the time is now for us to band together and demonstrate a new model that works for everyone.
Here Is To An Impactful 2017. Let’s Make A Difference.