by Hillary Strobel | Featured Contributor
These are exciting times.
We are sitting on the cusp of opportunity here, that of creating an entirely new economy which is inclusive and beneficial for everyone.
Of course Social Businesses are leading the way in terms of creating innovative products and services. They are also looking at ways to improve distribution of their wares, as well as how they operate. Each of these is crucial and important to a brighter future, of course.
What if, rather than focusing on one business or one innovative process, we looked at the entire system within which businesses operate?
What are the solutions?
These exciting times we live in could be either dangerous or beneficial, depending both on our shared worldview and our efforts to create solutions based on problems rather than stewing in the problems. We know that income inequality exists, but the real question is what we are going to do about it.
Here are three major areas that business leaders can group solutions into:
- Creating jobs where they are needed most (and employing the most vulnerable citizens in those jobs)
- Improving access to goods and services
- Investing locally, for the biggest immediate impact
The consequences of ignoring these solutions are obvious: we have gaping income inequality. Inequality has both direct (immediate) and indirect consequences, which will continue to reverberate through coming generations if we continue to do nothing different.
Income inequality leads to vulnerable citizens, which in turn leads to overall burdens on the system. Everything from poor performance at school to lowered quality of health is related to income and the lack of access to avenues for advancement.
Social businesses are leading the way in filling in some of these gaps: companies are creating innovative education programs and food distribution systems, for example. In general, these are inarguably positive developments. The time is ripe, however, for an overhaul of the entire process by which business operates; that is, a completely new economic system.
Systemic Change is a Social Good
Systemic change occurs when enough players in the game realize the mutual benefits of changing the rules of the game. It’s fairly obvious that enough businesses realize that our current economic system not only does not support their customers equitably, it does not support their own operations effectively. The solution: it’s time for a change. A real, definitive change.
Now that we are recognizing the ways to group solutions into manageable chunks, we need to develop the processes to solve the problems. More and more players must become involved in this to make bigger and bigger change.
The keys to creating an inclusive economy are not rocket science, nor are they impossible. In many cases, they are absolutely necessary to the health of the overall economy as well as the business itself. Without change, we cannot evolve, and it is time to address some of these needs. Social business is leading the way, and needs to continue to do so, while also expanding their larger social impact goals to include the success of the system as well as the individual business.
Hillary Strobel is a single mother, fierce learner and teacher, ardent lover of life, and the ass-kickin’ President and CEO of The Flyways, Inc. We publish story projects that are interactive and highly creative, and 25% of profits are donated to support social justice causes: from business incubators serving vulnerable women, to agencies working to reduce recidivism rates.
Hillary also runs a consultancy for businesses and organizations seeking to meaningfully build social impact programs from the ground up. The three pillars that support this mission are: designing outcomes and developing goals, measuring impact and creating a universal metric, and quantifying results to the public.
After a long and varied career in just about every kind of Liberal Arts field imaginable, and in every type of job — volunteer, employee, entrepreneur, non-profit worker, and freelancer — Hillary has decided to marry her two deepest passions: storytelling and social justice. The results have surpassed her wildest expectations.