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  • Karen Campa
  • Mauro Sanhueza-Celsi
  • Ben Goldhirsh
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Good business, Better Profits... where is the transparency?

Chris Marshall

Kelsey TImmerman was recently on a panel discussion on HuffPo talking about how companies are using the "do good" mantra with little transparency or legitimacy. He compared the business cases of Sole Rebels, and Ethiopian shoe company, to TOMS and their well branded products. His points and thoughts caught my eye. My question to the community is: How good do you expect a social enterprise to be? Are they generally meeting your expectations? Please comment!

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  • Elyse Petersen

    Corporate Social Responsibility is one of the most harmful things to sustainability. I took a class on it during my MBA and thought it was ridiculous that large companies have departments that are responsible for running programs that serve more of a marketing function than anything else. To me this should not be siloed but should be a consciousness that every employee of the company has rooted in the mission and culture of the organization. It is hard to implement this type of culture change for large organizations, which is why I believe a new generation of social entrepreneurs will build new systems and solutions that are consciously minded and more sustainable for the community, environment, and business. You can read more of my thoughts on this here: http://www.good.is/posts/the-world-will-be-saved-by-social-entrepreneurs

    • Ben Goldhirsh

      I struggle with this - not the concept of it, but the tone, as it feels like questioning whether the intentions are authentic or not, and i worry that when intentions get questioned, it undermines people's ability to hear feedback and respond constructively. In the case of TOMS, that was started by a young entrepreneur who was just whipping up a cool idea to respond to a problem he saw. It worked at far greater scale and a far faster pace than he envisioned. In turn, he and his team had to think about how the mission at the core of their concept could further permeate their business beyond just the one for one model, but breathe into how they improve the core giving components, and equally important, how they align the variety of pillars of their business with their impact goals. I dig watching this and I've been really impressed seeing Blake (TOMS founder) respond to questions around intentions without frustration, but just with more work to see TOMS evolve to do more good. Anyhow, so, yes, why 1% vs. 50% vs running it as non-profit. All good questions. But it's tough to evaluate without knowing the full scope of variables (what was the investment reality to launch, what were the option needs for staff recruitment, what was the competitor landscape in terms of pricing competition and how does that dictate what margins exist for giving). All those things are relevant. I assume that people aren't full of shit. That they're really doing their best. And unless you want someone to just straight up stop and quit, I think feedback should be simultaneously aggressive (more can be done and should!) as well as supportive (way to go with what's been done so far!). Anyhow, that's one person's perspective. Eager to hear where other's heads are at.

      and lastly, I agree that it's awesome when the full ecosystem of a business drives benefit to all touched by each component. so there. let's keep trying.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Totally makes sense and companies like that are for sure doing more than I am. Interesting you bring up initial investment- I didn't think of that and that's definitely important. I wonder as a company grows, can their percentage given back be raised? And Ben- you're right- I shouldn't be too critical. An effort is an effort and the more it's encouraged, sometimes the better the company will do.

        • Ben Goldhirsh

          Don't turn the critical lens your way! I think we're all grinding for the same outcome. And I think there are serious systems challenges which are scary and frustrating, and I think sometimes it feels like positive messaging of efforts risks shadowing issues that needs attention, and I think tension arises in that sense that can sometimes land at the feet of folks active in relevant areas. That's a good thing. Just adding the piece about respecting intentions so that the attention can lead to deeper and more substantive impact related to that specific effort, and also so that it can ensure that the issue isn't siloed just there, as these system matters are all of our issues. kind of confused myself with this comment, but letting it fly anyhow. word. and thanks for your comment. you're a big stud.

          • Alessandra Rizzotti

            LOL "You're a big stud". Thanks! Ben- I think we're on the same page. Respect people's/company's intentions, and see if you can help them develop those intentions so that they can take better action.