The Role of Social Business in Creating an Inclusive Economy
It’s time to lead from the future.
We are living in exciting times.
Whether those exciting times become dangerous or beneficial for our future depends on how we approach some of our most pressing problems today. One of these problems is income inequality. Inequality has both direct (immediate) and indirect consequences, which will continue to reverberate through coming generations if we continue to do nothing different.
To address this, social businesses must lead the way to developing an inclusive economy.
Income inequality leads to vulnerable citizens, which in turn leads to overall burdens on the system. Everything from poor performance at school to lowered quality of health is related to income and the lack of access to avenues for advancement.
Social businesses are indeed innovating in filling in some of these gaps: companies are creating forward-facing education programs and food distribution systems, for example. In general, these are inarguably positive developments.
The time is ripe, however, for an overhaul of the entire process by which business operates; that is, a completely new economic system.
One of the most immediate ways to undertake this shift is in creating jobs where they are needed most and employing vulnerable people. Only a few weeks ago, the state of California introduced legislation that requires employers to refrain from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record at the first interview. Only if the applicant is able to move ahead in the process to the potential hiring stage will the employer be allowed to inquire into criminal pasts, and then they are required to provide justification if they opt not to hire the applicant after all. This allows those with criminal records for very low-level offenses to move ahead in the economy.
Local Impact Investing
Another area for businesses to lead the way in creating an inclusive economy is in refurbishing the distribution chains for access to goods and services. These things must (and can) be more equitably distributed. Frankly, this makes much better financial sense as well, as we are currently seeing that antiquated methods for accessing and providing goods and services are no longer effectively meeting needs.
Finally, an inclusive economy is most directly created by engaging in local investment. Too much of the current business landscape is taken up with centralized holdings, where the money spent in a business does not remain in the community where the business is physically located. Social businesses are already leading this charge, and it must be expanded and codified in order to have a larger scale effect.
The keys to creating an inclusive economy are not rocket science, nor are they impossible. In many cases, they are absolutely necessary to the health of the local economy as well as the business itself. Without change, we cannot evolve, and it is time to address some of these needs. Social business is leading the way, and needs to continue to do so, while also expanding their impact goals.
About the Author: Hillary is a content single mother, fierce learner and teacher, ardent lover of life, and President/CEO of a Social Enterprise, The Flyways, Inc. After a long and varied career in just about every kind of Liberal Arts field imaginable, and in every type of job position- volunteer, employee, entrepreneur, non-profit worker, and freelancer- she decided to put her money where her mouth is and marry her two deepest passions: storytelling and social justice. The results have surpassed her wildest expectations.