Countless small- and large-scale social entrepreneurs and corporate executives are working to make business a powerful force for environmental responsibility and positive social and economic change. Recognizing how profit and growth are central drivers of ecological destruction, they’re redefining a “triple bottom line” approach (planet, people, profit) by which businesses can measure success. New legal and accounting mechanisms include corporate social responsibility reports, benefit corporations, the concept of “blended value” enterprises, and legal “B Corps”, as well as new corporate governance practices. Here are some organizations that support this movement.
Many leading-edge experiments in transformational conversations have been refined by top consultants doing organizational and leadership development, conflict mediation, team building, and stakeholder harmonization. They are numerous and diverse. Among the most well known are Otto Scharmer (author of Theory U and Presence) and his U-Lab (ottoscharmer.com, presencing.com), Peter Senge (author of The Fifth Discipline and The Necessary Revolution) and the Society for Organizational Learning (solonline.org), Bill Torbert (author of Action-Inquiry) and Fred Kofman (author of Conscious Business and Authentic Communication). Rob Evans’s elegant Design Shop process integrates many of these principles (imaginal-labs.com). And the edges of possibility are being explored by many skilled consultants including my longtime friends Bert Parlee (bertparlee.com), leadership expert Barrett C. Brown (apheno.com) Grant Hunter (syntropycenter.com) and Adam B. Leonard (now in-house at Google/Alphabet). Werner Erhard, Michael Jensen and their colleagues are making powerful pioneering contributions to the understanding and teaching of leadership (wernererhard.net) and (beingaleader.net) which are described in chapter 6.
Some resources for social entrepreneurs and investors are:
- The Impact Hub Global Community (impacthub.net) supports and mobilizes one of the most effective connection tools of social entrepreneurship communities: urban co-working spaces. The Impact Hub global community includes over 80 centers on five continents that offer co-working social entrepreneurs resources, inspiration, services, events and opportunities for collaboration and networking, as well as many additional community resources (see Impact Hub Oakland above for more details).
- SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) (socialcapitalmarkets.net) is a network of investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who bring together ideas and capital to address the world’s toughest challenges through market-based solutions. Its conferences are a key gathering place for social entrepreneurs worldwide.
- For over thirty years, the Social Venture Network (svn.org) has worked “to support and empower diverse, innovative leaders who leverage business to serve the greater good.” Bringing together investors, communities and the environment, SVN has given birth to many initiatives, including Businesses for Social Responsibility (below).
- Businesses for Social Responsibility—BSR (bsr.org)—is a global nonprofit business network dedicated to sustainability. It has offices on three continents and 250 large corporate members; BSR helps its members upgrade their practices and those of their supply chains, especially regarding environment, energy, climate, ecosystems, water, social justice, women’s and LBGT issues.
- The Hult Prize (hultprize.org) is an enormous engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit startups emerging from universities. With over 2500 staff and volunteers around the world has deployed more than $50 M of capital since 2009 and mobilized more than one million young people to re-think the future of business as it continues to breed disruptive innovation on college and university campuses across 100 plus countries.
- The Laudato Si Challenge (laudatosichallenge.org) is a global initiative partnering with the Vatican in response to Pope Francis’s encyclical calling for “integral ecology”. It identifies, funds, and mentors startups to achieve viability to grow breakthrough solutions to humanity’s boldest challenges relating to Energy, Food, Water, Urban Challenges, Human Potential, Conservation, and Industry and Finance.
- Game Changers (gamechangers.co) finds, ranks, connects, and supports the top for-benefit businesses in the world. It shares their stories, organizes trainings, and aims to catalyze the creation of new for-benefit businesses worldwide.
- Conscious Capitalism (consciouscapitalism.org), founded by Whole Foods founder John Mackey, believes in free-enterprise capitalism as “the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived,” and aims to direct it towards the goal of creating “financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth.”
- Teal Organizations as described in Frederick LaLoux’s important book, Reinventing Organizations, are going beyond top-down “command and control” management and opening new possibilities for how organizations can operate to maximize personal responsibility, human cooperation and synergy. Cited examples include Buurtzorg, Morningstar Company, Zappo’s, and Holocracy One. But the innovations these organizations exemplify are spontaneously emerging in many organizations all over the world, often facilitated by sophisticated consultants and coaches.
- Living Goods (livinggoods.org) supports networks of “Avon-like”entrepreneurs in the developing world who deliver life-changing products door to door—including treatments for such life-threatening illnesses as malaria and diarrhea, nutritious foods, water filters, and the like. It creates livelihoods for enterprising individuals as well as seriously addressing individual and public health issues, concentrating on areas where child deaths are most likely (e.g., Uganda, Kenya, Myanmar).
- Juma Ventures (juma.org) takes at-risk youth across America and places them in socially engaging jobs that teach leadership skills, thus reducing recidivism and creating resources for successful careers. It owns 20+ social enterprise operations and serves low-income youth in nine US cities.
- Acumen Fund (acumen.org) invests philanthropic dollars into proven change makers. Thus it aims to transform philanthropy by bringing sustainable solutions to poverty, creating access to basic services, and moving toward equality of opportunity.
- Echoing Green (echoinggreen.org/) provides seed funding and leadership development to support visionaries around the world who are transforming their communities through economic development, gender equity, and environmental sustainability. Its 700+ innovators have launched hundreds of programs and initiatives.