Ask yourself these basic attitude/approach questions when evaluating both your local and your global engagement.
When it comes to social impact, does your company:
Give Up. “The problem is too big,” or “It’s not my problem.”
When we feel we are not enough to make a difference, we can send a message that it’s not even worth the try. Don’t forget the old adage- “Whoever thinks they are too small to make a difference, has never been in bed with a mosquito buzzing about!”
Professing that “it’s not my problem” is not necessarily having good boundaries. It is an example of privilege. When we remember that it takes a village and we see each other as a part of that village, we know stepping in and stepping up is essential. Your worth and dignity is wrapped up in our collective success.
Give In. “We better get on the bandwagon and do something,” or “My employees want us to do something.”
If you are thinking about how everyone is talking about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), and that your company will be left behind if you don’t act or hire someone for this purpose, you may be one step in the right direction. But it’s time to be strategic and think outside your office walls.
Maybe you have always offered volunteering and engagement so that your employees know you care. Again, this is a first step in a positive direction, but isn’t going to create transformational change in your community or a shared initiative among all your stakeholders. It states that you would like to satisfy your employees’ desires, but the action lacks authenticity behind the motives or lasting and transformational change.
Give Back. “Thank you for supporting us,” or “We could market these good deeds.”
You realize your business exists because your customers have supported you, and you want to say thank you. This is good work and can be shown by sponsoring community-friendly events or donations of your goods. No one is saying not to do this, but that alone is not what will make your company a leader in the ways of engagement, ESG or transformational change.
If your social impact initiatives are seen as a way to market your business to the community, then you once again lack the authenticity behind your desire to do good work. At some level, when we do great work and then publicize ourselves in the midst, a good deed becomes a “give back” because we have potentially stolen some of the dignity of those we are serving.
Give Forward. “We are grateful to be a successful business and we want to share our gifts, talents, assets and privilege with others to empower the same.”
This is a mindset of human connectivity. Generosity begets generosity. When we understand that we are interdependent, this allows the individual to live from a posture of empathy. Lila Watson said it best: ‘if you’ve come to help me, you’re wasting your time, but if your liberation is bound to mine- then let’s work together.’
To learn more about what it means to be a “Give Forward” company, explore your Greater Calling with us.