Corporate Social Impact Advice: Setting Strategy

As this tumultuous year approaches its end, I reached out to a group of wise men and women who earn their keep by advising corporate social impact professionals.

What, I asked them, is a question you are frequently asked by clients about creating positive corporate social impact and, in brief, what advice are you giving them?

In this three-part-series, I will share their words of wisdom. The most common response had to do with helping companies start off on the right foot, so to speak, by determining what they should focus on.

Carol Cone, CEO, Carol Cone On Purpose

“Powering an authentic purpose will be key to growth in 2022. Authentic means thoughtful, real and sustained actions that drive the business internally and externally, while having a positive impact on society. And the organizations with the most authentic purpose have it embedded into their cultures, modeled by CEOs who understand an evolved, servant leadership role, with the most critical stakeholder, employees.

Activate authentic purpose by living these core principles:

1. Listen and observe every day. Be sensitive to signals from stakeholders.


2. Embrace employees. They are looking for support and counting on leadership for truth.

3. Be accountable, empathetic and humble.

4. Live values, daily.”

Mark Feldman, Managing Director, Cause Consulting

“Developing an authentic point of view (POV) around complex ESG issues is an essential component to leading and driving impact. Your POV should be deeply rooted in knowledge of your issue, its surrounding context, and how your actions can foster change. Architecting a robust Impact Model informs your POV and guides the creation of substantive programs that demonstrate your commitment. With a unique perspective and initiatives in place, you’re ready to rally stakeholders with inspiring calls-to-action and tangible, human-focused stories of impact.”

Deirdre Walsh, Co-Founder, IGC

“The pandemic, poverty, education, equity, sustainability, democracy – the list of causes for companies to support is nearly endless, BUT IT IS CRITICAL FOR COMPANIES TO FOCUS THEIR EFFORTS. We advise organizations to authentically align their social impact programs to their company’s mission, values, products, and culture, NOT TO TRY TO GET A LITTLE INVOLVED IN EVERY ISSUE. This sweet spot, where “profit meets purpose,” serves as a strategic guide for not only philanthropic and public policy efforts but for strategic decision making and capital allocation. Gone are the days when businesses can just sign a coalition letter, donate to a nonprofit, or rewrite an HR policy to claim they are a good corporate citizen. Organizations must define, meaningfully support, collaborate on, and measure their social impact to achieve greater business results and truly build a better world.”

The Tycoon Herald