What’s Trending—Using Your Business as a Force for Good

This blog post is co-bylined by Sheila Herrling, SVP, Social Innovation at the Case Foundation and Hardik Savalia, Senior Associate, Standards, at B Lab—a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

It’s undeniable; entrepreneurship is experiencing a culture shift. Everyday we hear more stories about the power of business to be a force for good. It’s no longer enough for an enterprise to earn a good profit. There’s a growing expectation that it will contribute to society and to a sustainable future. In his State of the Union Address, even President Obama articulated the need for businesses to get serious about improving their social and environmental impact. He stressed how businesses can do right by their workers, customers and communities, in addition to generating great profits.

Heeding the Call–Corporations committed to positive impact

Urgent social needs—access to energy, education, healthcare, clean water—don’t show signs of decline, making it clear that philanthropic and government resources alone won’t be sufficient to address them all. Communities around the world will need committed entrepreneurs and investors to help drive the next wave of great social change and environmental conservation.

Luckily, more than 1,600 companies including Patagonia and Warby Parker have taken the lead in this growing movement, by completing an extensive certification process to become B Corps. Yet, we believe that if we’re going to make real progress on social and environmental issues, we have to empower all companies, no matter the industry, location or size, with the tools to benchmark, measure and compare their positive impact on workers, communities and the environment. After all, how can any business start to improve their impact, without first knowing where they stand?

Through our partnership, we at B Lab and the Case Foundation have created the B Impact Assessment to do just this, and it’s already being used by more than 40,000 businesses in 80 countries. We’ve also recently released an enhanced, more user-friendly version of the Assessment to make it easier for any team member—ranging from CEO, to intern, to manager—to start this exercise confidentially for their business.

Ready to see it for yourself? Check out the new assessment!

B Impact Assessment SH

The Assessment takes users on a step-by-step journey through a variety of best practices that have already been adopted by leading companies. For example, what percent of the company’s workers receive a living wage? The tool provides examples from companies like Ben & Jerry’s on how they’ve successfully implemented a living wage program for all of their employees.

We believe there’s no single way to build a better business and the initial baseline assessment is the first step on a pathway to improvement. After completing the first, quick assessment, which on average takes about 30 minutes, we encourage companies to come back and use the built-in tools to set goals, create an action plan and start implementing those best practices to realize better social outcomes.

B Impact Report

Join the Movement–Use your business to drive social change.

The B Corps community and the Case Foundation, together are proud that more than 1,600 companies have fully committed to do their part as certified B Crops—redefining success for business—and that another 40,000 companies have shown an interest in doing better. We’re excited to invite all businesses to join this movement, and measure your ability to build stronger communities, create environmentally sustainable operations or cultivate empowering employment opportunities. We invite you to use business as a force for good.

Join our upcoming webinar, Increasing Your Impact & Improving Your Score on the B Impact Assessment, to learn more about how business can measure and improve their impact.

5 Tips for Attracting (and Keeping) Millennial Employees

Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and represent more than one in three workers according to Pew Research Center. And while this generation is growing in size, influence and power within the workplace, many employers, managers and HR departments still find it difficult to recruit and retain next gen talent.

For many leaders at organizations around the country, the challenge is in more effectively engaging Millennial employees and in understanding that their passions, interests and ideas are part of their identity—not just at home or with friends, but also at the office. Through the Millennial Impact Project, we have learned that one key way employers can tap into those interests is by integrating them into the organization’s cause- and service-related issues and projects, which resonate well with this generation. The 2014 Millennial Impact Report, which focused primarily on Millennials’ preferences in the workplace, identified the linkage between a company’s cause-related efforts and the interest of and desire by their Millennial employees to engage in those efforts as part of their employment.

In the newly released report by Achieve titled, “Cause, Influence & the Next Generation Workforce – Six-Month Research Update,” researchers built upon their 2014 and 2015 surveys of Millennials and engagement in the workplace and looked specifically at data on company size and cause work programs as a means to foster workplace engagement. Researchers wanted to know in this six-month update: how participation in company cause work programs are influenced by the existing and structuring of such programs; why companies should consider incorporating cause work initiatives earlier in an employee’s tenure; and the importance of companies preventing participation fatigue. (Note: Reports referenced above are sponsored by the Case Foundation.)

My big takeaway for organizations interested in deeper engagement is that offering service opportunities alone is not enough. Organizations that take their engagement a step further and tailor those opportunities with and for next gen employees are more successful at engaging Millennial employees over the long term.

Based on the findings of this research, here are five practical tips that any team manager or leader who wants to better engage their next gen employees can put into practice—today:

Tip #1: Companies should look to establish service initiatives and volunteer opportunities for Millennial employees—not only to be a socially responsible company, but also to foster a service oriented culture that can align with the employees’ passions and will ultimately help to retain Millennial employees and managers.

Tip #2: Executives and managers should make sure to promote the service-related opportunities and foster awareness about those programs available. This will help to ensure that Millennial employees have the opportunity to be fully engaged.

Tip #3: Consider offering incentives to those who participate in the service-related programs. Make sure that they are incentives that would be appreciated by the employees and managers alike, and are aligned with the service opportunity (e.g., time allowances for staff to volunteer with an organization of their choice).

Tip #4: Consult team members at all professional levels to ensure that the organization’s engagement strategies and offerings resonate with the next gen employees. Suggesting employees donate to an organization selected by the company—without input from the staff—could likely result in disinterested participation and lackluster support from next gen team members.

Tip #5: Engage with employees and involve them early on during their careers with your organization (e.g., orientation or within the first few months). When leaders did not engage employees early on, it often took one to two years for employees to become involved with cause related activities led by the employer.

And finally, as noted in the report: “To truly engage—and retain—their Millennial employees and managers in cause work initiatives for years to come, employers must take the time to learn about what causes employees value, how they want to make an impact, what influences them and what challenges them to continue participating.”

Do you have a tip for how to attract and retain Millennial talent through service related activities? Share it with us on Twitter using @CaseFoundation and #Millennials.

Jean Case Elected Chairman of the National Geographic Society

Today, we are excited to announce that our CEO, Jean Case, has been elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society. We could not be more proud of our CEO as she steps into this role with such an iconic organization.

Jean joins a successful line of stewards who have guided National Geographic to great heights over the course of its rich 128-year history. From her leadership at the Case Foundation to her pioneering efforts at AOL, Jean has worked tirelessly to create opportunities that enrich people’s lives and the planet on which we live. We marvel at her innate ability to be both a student of the world and history, all the while fearlessly looking forward and forging an intrepid path.

For more than a decade, the Case Foundation has been proud to partner with and support the important work of National Geographic. The Foundation has long believed in the power of leveraging innovative business models to tackle global challenges, transform communities and drive social change. As one of the world’s longest standing social enterprises, National Geographic has been a natural partner for the Case Foundation in our work to lift up fearless, bold and visionary changemakers.

And while Jean may be spending a bit more time at the National Geographic headquarters just steps away from our office here in Washington, she is more committed than ever to the mission of the Case Foundation and our investments in people and ideas that can change the world. As Jean steps into this new role today, we encourage you to read her thoughts on Medium about the incredible journey ahead.

Still Have Questions About Impact Investing?

We’ve got Answers. Here’s a recap from the recent webinar: Everything you need to know about impact investing (in 1 Hr!)For those of you who missed it you can WATCH the webinar, which featured our own Jean Case and Kate Ahern of the Case Foundation; Melanie Audette of Mission Investors Exchange; Dan Brillman of Unite Us; and Stacy Donohue of Omidiyar Network.

Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation opened the discussion with a description of why impact investing and social enterprise are opening the door to important new opportunities for philanthropists to experiment and start making real impact. She shared pivotal trends and exciting recent developments in the field, like Happy Family’s big success for investors, which earned up to 30 times their return when Danone purchased the company. Finally, she provided insights into how foundation leadership can start to move from idea to action on impact investing.

Next, Kate Ahern, VP of Social Innovation at the Foundation gave an overview of the ins and outs of impact investing. She explained the range of options available for investors looking to bring their social goals to their financial strategy and vice versa. She also identified some of the unique opportunities for organizations like foundations to engage in the field, for example through Social Impact Bonds and backing supportive policies.

Stacy Donahue, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network and Dan Brillman, Founder and CEO of Unite US shared the perspectives of a social investor and a social entrepreneur. Omidyar Network has, through its LLC, provided Unite US with a Series A equity investment. Together they provided a rare look into the practical interactions between a company and its philanthropic, for-profit investor. Both Donahue and Brillman shared great insights into the values of reaching beyond your bubble for highly impactful collaborations.

At the Case Foundation we believe in the power of philanthropy, nonprofits and government to drive social change, that’s why we’re so excited about the growing momentum in impact investing. Over the course of the last two years we have witnessed a number of game changing moments, which we featured in our recent blog post, A Hot Summer for Impact Investing. From Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s recent acquisition of Imprint Capital, to impact investing champions like Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation taking leadership of the U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing—each of these efforts have been rooted in building a strong ecosystem for the sector.

As part of this commitment to the ecosystem, we have spent countless hours educating and activating greater numbers of impact investors and educating others on this powerful tool for social change. Last year we released A Short Guide to Impact Investing, a quick and easy to read resource for anyone interested in impact investing. This year we’ve embarked on a number of educational events—from our journalists training hosted in conjunction with the ImpactHub and Arabella Advisors, to our webinar, this week, in partnership with Council on Foundations and Mission Investors Exchange.

We hope you will continue the conversation with us as we continue to explore more opportunities to drive social change through social entrepreneurship and impact investing—join us on Twitter using #ImpInv.