For most of us, this summer is like no other has ever been. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is exposing the vulnerability of our species and our profound need for one another. It has revealed the great injustices of our institutions and the inequities that prop them up. There must be change. Our society is yearning for a new way, a better path. We are each called to play our part to reimagine a social and economic system that works for all, including the ecosystems that sustain us. Here is a roundup of the work that preoccupies me as we lean into the effort that will re-inspire a new way of being. I hope you find some nuggets below to help you chart your path to meaning and impact.
We are all called to the task of building back better. Let’s do everything we can to not let this historical moment go to waste. Future generations are depending on us.
Pursuing Corporate Social Purpose in the Time of COVID-19
Early into the pandemic, companies and brands around the world stepped up to help their employees, customers, suppliers, and communities with a range of relief and resilience measures. Leading the way were purpose-driven companies, as I demonstrated in this Corporate Knights co-authored article. Based on this swift and dramatic corporate response, I created this COVID Social Response Checklist for the Social Purpose Institute which you can review for inspiration and validation.
Pivoting to Purpose during the Pandemic
Studies show that businesses around the world are reshaping their purposes during this pandemic period to address rising expectations that business should create value for all stakeholders, not just a few. Unquestionably social purpose in business is taking off. I produced this set of six case studies of Canadian social purpose businesses for the Canadian government. Check it out for inspiration to help your company or those you advise on this journey.
Making Purpose-driven Decisions During Crises
Now, more than ever, business leaders are called upon to make immediate and profound decisions with far-reaching consequences for society and themselves. While this can be scary, following your purpose north star will help you and your teams make values-based clear and compelling choices as you allocate resources and prioritize investments. Here is a resource to help you with that: A Social Impact Tool for Purpose-Driven Organizations, sponsored by the McConnell Foundation. Keep this handy in your day-to-day decision-making and you will build goodwill, inspire social innovation, and put your company and society on track
for a viable future in the pandemic’s aftermath.
Advocating to Create the Future We Want
Months before COVID-19 struck I was one of 14 thought leaders and business representatives imagining a promising future for all. We were appointed to the BC government’s Emerging Economy Task Force and spent over a year exploring how the province could be a steward of an economy that worked for all, and that functioned within planetary limits. This spring we published our report. It is a call to action to governments everywhere to use their influence to create the future we want, rather than passively accepting trends like climate change and inequality that undermine humanity’s ability to flourish in a thriving world.
Read my blog to find out my favorite recommendations and to pick up ideas for your own advocacy efforts.
Building a Social Purpose Business Movement in Canada
The social purpose business movement has officially been launched! I was pleased to collaborate with Mike Rowlands, President and CEO of Junxion Strategy, GLOBE Series, and the Social Purpose Institute to facilitate the first-ever national dialogue on how to accelerate social purpose in
Canada – and create a movement around the idea of companies contributing to society through their core business. The discussion resulted in a set of priorities for building an economy powered by the pursuit of long-term well-being for all, in which business, and regulatory and financial systems foster an equitable, flourishing, resilient future. To learn more about Canada's opportunity to place purpose at the centre of our economic recovery, read the at-a-glance summary of the dialogue: Accelerating and Scaling Social Purpose Business in Canada: How You Can Help and Why.
Driving a Resilient Flourishing Future, the Association Way
Associations have an important role to play in building back better. As they and their members have wrestled with the fallout from COVID, they are discovering that knowledge and capacity gaps exist for addressing and mitigating systemic risks such as pandemics, climate change, rising inequality, and social unrest. There is much work ahead to address the gaps, and this tool, Association Social Impact Framework, can help associations equip their members with instruments to build a resilient, sustainable, and equitable future. If you belong to an association, whether professional, industry or business, please share this resource with it and encourage it to help build a society for the benefit of all.
Building Social Impact through Post-Secondary Leadership
In 2017 I authored the influential paper Maximizing the Capacities of Advanced Education Institutions to Build Social Infrastructure for Canadian Communities for Simon Fraser University and the McConnell Foundation. Since it was published, considerable social innovation in the post-secondary sector has been realized. This year I was engaged to conduct a retrospective of these efforts, published on the paper’s third anniversary in May. This investigation revealed a sector building a
social impact field of practice expanding the mission of higher education beyond teaching and research to one that formally and explicitly contributes to a sustainable future.
Governance in the New Decade: The Rise of Boardroom ESG
Join me at the Governance Professionals of Canada’s second annual ESG (environmental, social and governance) conference on September 14. I am pleased to be lead coordinator of this now-virtual event, and moderator of the kick-off panel. Check out the incredible lineup of diverse speakers who will explore the role of boards in providing oversight of climate and pandemic risks and standing up for issues of social and racial equity. The boardroom is changing; attend this session to learn how. Contact me if you are interested in the code to access the partner
rate of $450 + HST.