40 came and went last year and it’s no surprise, probably even cliché, I’ve found myself spending a great deal of time examining my purpose in life in recent times.

I started researching social impact; attending local workshops at the Colorado Institute for Social Impact (CI4SI), and enrolling in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) like Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators through UPenn on Coursera and Business Strategies for Social Impact through Wharton. I began expressing my interest in social impact out loud. And the question that usually followed was, “So, what is social impact (to you)?”

I think this definition from University of Michigan is simple and concise, A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.”

Now, “significant” and “pressing social challenge” leaves some room for interpretation. For one, that could mean stricter gun laws and for another, looser.

For me, it relates to making my dent in the universe, working with people and organizations solving wicked problems in healthcare, education, sustainability, climate change, and social justice.

Some related terms:

  • Social Enterprise
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Conscious Capitalism
  • Triple Bottom Line – Profit, People, Planet
  • The Fourth Sector
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Impact Investing
  • Social Return on Investment (SROI)
  • Benefit Corporation
  • Certified B Corp
  • Circular Design
  • Environmental, Social and Governance Criteria (ESG)

Social impact isn’t just a personal matter, however. I believe it’s going to become table stakes for business going forward. And the research supports that.

Accenture Strategy surveyed ~30,000 consumers globally and found they “are no longer making decisions based solely on product selection or price; they’re assessing what a brand says, what it does and what it stands for. They support companies whose brand purpose aligns with their beliefs. And they reject those that don’t, with one in five walking away forever.”

PwC found that “Seventy percent of people globally say they want to work for an organisation with a ‘powerful social conscience’ – up from 65% in 2014” in their survey of 10,029 “members of the general public.”

Much of the discussion regarding social impact in business currently centers around the consumer world, but it’s only a matter of time before its importance grows in the B2B realm, too. What are you doing to get ahead of the curve?

For additional reading, see:

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash