Key Takeaway: “When a company uses its most valuable assets—human, technological, financial—to find innovative solutions to our most vital social, economic, and environmental challenges, it will really grow its value.”
When Alice was finishing A Better World, which had taken her three years to research and analyze, the data told her a story that surprised her: “Only companies have the vast resources to truly solve our most challenging problems—social, economic, and environmental—because companies have the vast human resources and financial technology,” she concluded, “And companies have the global footprints and the market incentives.”
Now, that eye-opening realization came with a few caveats. The only companies that succesfully found innovative solutions had to do three things well:
Collaborate with nonprofits who brought expertise and relationships with vulnerable communities
Receive effective governance from a board of directors made up of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives
Holding Corporations Accountable
One other caveat: Society, and investors, must hold corporations accountable for how they treat their workers and the communities they serve. That’s becoming particularly obvious during the pandemic.
“it’s becoming clearer than ever the companies can only maximize their value and their growth in the context of a healthy and vibrant community,” she says. “lf we’re learning anything today, it’s that the health and welfare of every member of the community is interconnected, and it’s now glaringly apparent that we depend on the well-being of hourly wage workers.” Those workers, now considered “essential,” are also the most vulnerable.
The Benefits of Serving on Boards
Michael and Alice talk about how placing employees of corporations on nonprofit boards benefits both for-profits and nonprofits. In her experience, mid-career employees who join nonprofit boards gain real skills that help them succeed as they advance. Serving on nonprofit boards helps them build relationships with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds—and helps connect the organization with many more resources their employer may bring to the table.
The biggest lesson board members may take away, Alice says: “They develop an understanding of the connection between the health of the community and the company’s success.”