Social Impact in the Private Sector: Profit and Good Aren't Mutually Exclusive
You don’t have to work for a nonprofit to work for good. There are social impact careers in every sector, including a growing number of opportunities with for-profit entities. Let's have a look.
Changes in the Private Sector
In the past couple of decades, technological advances, greater environmental and social awareness, and shifts in the way we think about work have set the stage for a wave of new corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability jobs in companies, and for benefit corporations (B Corps) to spring up worldwide.
Corporate foundations are also steadily rebounding after the 2008 fiscal crisis; more companies than ever are working for a triple bottom line (“people, planet, profit”); and many newer fields—like renewable energy, microfinance, and green building—have had great success forwarding CSR goals while still turning a profit. Much has been written about this phenomenon, and reading up a bit can be good background when you’re beginning a job search.
Types of Jobs and Companies
Net Impact does a stellar breakdown of popular private sector jobs for good in the Field Overviews section of their Career Center. Get a simple but detailed look at gigs that have been around for a while—in fields like philanthropy, international development, and education—and others that are newer to the scene—in corporate impact, crowdfunding, clean tech, and others.
As you search, investigate the companies that interest you: what can you find out about their commitment to social responsibility or the environment? JustMeans, Climate Counts, and the National Green Pages are all excellent places to start researching.
Think Outside the Job
There are also many work and gateway-to-work options off the traditional job path:
1. Think about whether a fellowship could be a good fit for you. Ashoka, Echoing Green, Encore, and ProInspire are a few all-star organizations offering fellowships for outstanding social entrepreneurs.
2. Many MBA and other traditionally private-sector-focused grad school programs are branching out to include working for good in their curricula. Read more in Net Impact’s Business as UNusual guide and the Aspen Institute’s rankings of MBA programs focused on impact work.
3. There are dozens of professional and networking associations for people in common good careers. Check out the Social Enterprise Alliance, Social Venture Network, and University Network for Social Entrepreneurship for some great examples.
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