4 Takeways on Why Social Impact is just Good Business.
SkyHive Technologies achieved Pending B Corporation status in late 2017. Pending B Corps are startups that have been operating under 12 months, that will transition into full certification after a full business cycle has concluded and can be reported on and measured.
This post summarizes the considerations SkyHive has taken to become a Pending B Corporation with hopes that other for-profit companies may see the wisdom in “walking the talk” and becoming a true social impact company.
Definition and Origins of Social Impact
By definition, Social Impact is the cause and effect relationship between the addition of something to a community, and the impacts to the people of that community. That “something” is anything that is significant enough for the community to take notice. A new bookshop in a small town. A new tower in a large metropolis. A new teacher in small elementary school. A new basketball court in a community park. These are all examples of a cause for social change in a community. Impacts (effects) are the resulting social and cultural changes that occur to the people in the community.
Takeaway #1: When something, anything of significance (i.e. a company) is added to a community, it either positively or negatively impacts the people of that community.
Economic development plays one of the most important parts to a community’s overall health and prosperity. Companies, just like people, have an immense responsibility to understand how their participation in a community has either positively, or negatively affected that community. If the latter, companies must seek to correct the negative impact it is having on the community in order for that community to continue to flourish and grow. Its just good business. If companies feel that its bottom-line results can possibly measure whether they are positively or negatively affecting the communities they serve they are extremely short-sighted and frankly dead-wrong.
SkyHive has become a member of the B Corporation family to ensure it understands the positive and negative impacts it is having on the communities it serves. If any of the latter, the B Corp membership includes a global network of companies and thought leaders that are available to learn best practices from to improve its impact.
Social Impact Assessment
Universities began measuring social impact (Social Impact Assessment) in the 1970s. These assessments mirrored environmental impact assessments that had begun to be implemented a decade before.
These studies were forecast studies, in other words, undertaken before the decision was made to introduce something new to the community. It measured the existing social conditions, tried to identify the possible changes that may occur and their extent, listed the relative importance of the changes to communities, identified methods to minimize adverse effects, and lastly an evaluation of a “go” or “no-go” on the proposed change to the community.
Takeaway #2: It is possible to actually forecast one’s social impact before deciding to do something, and make changes to enhance the initiative.
As a startup, SkyHive was just as interested in arming the company with this forecasting tool as it was with a financial forecasting tool. Knowing that contributing positively to communities is not just good for community members but also good for business, why wouldn’t it want every possible advantage and data point on its path to a lasting, successful, sustainable business?
What Gets Measured Gets Done
In 1947 the International Standards Organization (ISO) was formed. It is the world’s largest standards-setting body, recognized in more than 163 countries. It facilitates world trade by providing common standards between nations. Companies and associations volunteer to agree to ISO standards, and it is a standard “rule book” that companies use globally to reflect their community to safety, reliability and quality of their products and services. Companies get certified as an ISO company by undertaking a rigorous implementation which includes changing policies, procedures, processes and even sometimes equipment within the company to comply with the universal ISO standards. Then to maintain their certification they are required to report regularly and undergo auditing by the ISO organization.
It has become a mark of quality recognized by most industries in the world. It must be noted the world economy has grown and merged more than ever before.
Takeaway #3: Globally-recognized standards have supported a period of global economic growth the likes of which has never been seen before in the world’s history.
At SkyHive we view B Corporation certification as the standard for social impact globally. Knowing that clients, stakeholders, employees, governments and communities-at-large can be rest assured that SkyHive is a “good” company, as evidenced by the strict commitments and standards it maintains and is measured on as a B Corporation, is simply good business.
A side note… as a startup, SkyHive has spent a lot of time forming its team which has included many, many interviews with candidates. When candidates are asked the question “What Interested you about SkyHive” the answer is the same every time. That it is a social impact company and wants to do good for the world and its people. It is the #1 recruitment tool we have, and we have an AMAZING team as a result.
Time to Walk the Talk
World economic growth stems from only four categories: Land, Labour, Capital and Enterprise. There is not one research document available that would suggest that negatively impacting any of these categories would improve economic growth or would be good for business. In other words, ensuring a true positive impact on the communities you serve is the path to long-term business success.
Takeaway #4: There is not one word of research presented, ever, that would support negative social impact as “good for business” or good for economic development.
So the question for companies that have not yet chosen to walk the talk is, how much success is your business missing out on by not being a true social impact company?
SkyHive was not interested in waiting to find out the answer to this question. It decided to skip the questions and get right to the answers.
Visit B Corporation for more information on how to drive social impact within your company and community.