Archive for the ‘Editorials’ Category

SOCAP Conversations: Meghan French Dunbar of Conscious Company on the First BIG Global Leaders Forum & The Rise of Sustainable Business

March 16th, 2017

Conscious Company Media’s mission is to make sustainable business the future of business.

The company’s remarkable growth has kept pace with the rapid rise of interest in sustainable business practices, social entrepreneurship, and conscious leadership. Conscious Company Magazine broke ground in 2015 as the first nationally distributed publication in the US to focus solely on sustainable business. Since then, the Certified B Corp has attracted widespread attention from readers and business leaders from across the spectrum.

In 2016 Conscious Company supported SOCAP as a media partner. The company has announced that, this June, they will join SOCAP as a convener. They are now organizing their first national event. From June 7 – 9, 2017, The Business Impact for Good (BIG): Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum will convene leaders from across the country at the San Francisco Impact Hub to discuss topics related to purpose at work, conscious leadership, and sustainable business. We recently sat down with Conscious Company Co-founder Meghan French Dunbar to talk about the importance of having a sense of purpose at work, the rise of “conscious leadership,” and the vision that inspired their upcoming event.
 

 

SOCAP: Conscious Company Magazine has been on stands for a little over two years now. Can you tell us about the developments you’ve seen since your first issue?

Meghan French Dunbar: When we were conceptualizing the publication in 2014, we were operating under the thesis that there was intense interest in this industry of conscious business and sustainable business and that it would soon start growing. My business partner (Maren Keeley) and I both did our MBAs with a focus on sustainability. We knew that there were graduate programs popping up all over the United States focusing on that.

With that first issue we put out, we got into every Whole Foods in the nation, which was a massive win for us. But we were curious about whether or not we would ever make it past Whole Foods. We weren’t sure we would be able to bridge the gap to more mainstream retailers. After that first issue sold really well, we got picked up by Barnes and Noble. It started selling well there. Since then, over the last two years, we’ve been picked up by Target and Kroger and HEB and Publix.

We are now seeing the trend that what we were hoping for, that more traditional business people are interested in learning about how sustainable business practices could really benefit their bottom line–what we are calling the conscious curious group. There has been a tremendous interest in the magazine itself as well as a yearning for more information beyond the magazine.

What inspired Conscious Company Media to become a convener, or the idea for your upcoming event, The Business Impact for Good (BIG) Forum?

The BIG Forum event in June will be our first national gathering. The impetus for becoming a convener was that, we noticed the magazine attracted leaders from almost all of the major industries in the sustainable business movement. They were all contributing. We had posts from Social Venture Network and Conscious Capitalism and B Lab and the American Sustainable Business Council and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. In reading the magazine, industry groups were cross pollinating ideas with each other.

So we saw that this was happening through the vehicle of the magazine and we really wanted to understand how to take that to the next level. That is where the idea for the event came from: We are hoping to bring together all of these industry group leaders along with key influencers and business leaders who have come into our network through the publication of the magazine to really talk about how to make a broader impact working together rather than everyone working on their own causes in different silos.

What can people expect to see at your event? How are conversations going to be stimulated within the group?

We are unpacking the traditional conference model. While there still will be a focus on major keynote speakers who have a lot of insights to share, we are really going to be focusing on workshops, on small group work, and breakout sessions. The point of the event is really to get these people in the same room to collaborate—to stimulate dialogue between attendees. We are focusing on collaboration efforts and workshops to facilitate discussion that helps people get perspective and cross pollinate ideas.

The framework of the event, we are hoping, will set the stage. The three triads of conscious leadership that we are focusing on are: the personal work that we all need to do, the workplace development work that we all need to do, and the cause based work that we need to focus on externally outside of our businesses. Self, workplace, and world, that is how we are framing the different tiers of the event.

You have already announced a few of the facilitators and speakers who will be presenting at the conference, can you share some of the content you are most excited to see?

As we are pulling together the agenda, there are so many sessions that I am excited about–honestly, all of them. Sessions will cover everything from Mandy Cabot (the Co-founder and CEO of Dansko) talking about workplace culture, and mindfulness to experts in workplace development, such as Cory Smith (Co-founder and CEO of Wisdom Labs) and Marc Lesser (CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), to Robert Egger (the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen) who focuses on cause-based work and figuring out how to have a larger impact on the world through the work that you do. And Chinwe Onyeagoro, President of Great Place to Work US, will lead a deep dive conversation into how to create a great place to work. It is exciting, across the board, including a few folks that I’m not allowed to name yet along with some large cap companies that are coming down the pipe.

What are you hoping to catalyze through this summit? What are some of the major takeaways you are hoping for?

We are really hoping to demonstrate that making change in the world starts at the individual level. By bringing all these leaders into the same place at the same time we hope to stimulate discussions around how important it is to embody conscious leadership, and how big of an impact that can create. Broadening out from there, helping anyone who hopes to create a big impact with their business, see how important it is to start by making the culture at your organization sustainable and driven by purpose so that employees can come to work every day feeling happy, healthy, and fulfilled. That you understand how impactful wellbeing in the workplace is–because they take that home and out into their communities.

And then the larger, the big impact piece of not only what you can do as a sustainable or conscious business, but how the product you create or the workplace culture you create, of how impactful it could be if we all started thinking about broader cause initiatives and how business can be used as a tool for advocacy. We are really hoping to highlight some of the best of the best examples, because we have seen so many business leaders come out as advocates, and really use this platform as business leaders to really effect change on a specific cause whether that be environmental protection or immigration rights or women’s rights or economic inclusion. We really hope that these great examples of advocacy will really inspire business leaders, that outside of what they are doing on a day to day basis, to really think about the causes that they truly want to have an impact on and start thinking about the next step on how to effect change as a business leader outside your company.

Business Impact for Good (BIG): The Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum will take place in at the newly renovated Impact Hub in downtown San Francisco, CA June 7 – 9, 2017. For more information visit https://consciouscompanymedia.com/forum/
 
Meghan French Dunbar is Co-founder of Conscious Company Media and Editor-in-chieftess of Conscious Company Magazine. Prior to launching CCM, Ms. French Dunbar was Managing Editor of two nationally distributed publications and spent nearly a decade in strategy development and project management in the nonprofit world.

Notes on Movement Building from a Convener

March 16th, 2017

By Kevin Jones

Movements happen when people who thought they were alone discover valuable strangers who become unlikely allies. I am flying to Armenia tomorrow to keynote the Impact Investing for Development Summit (IID) convened by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and knowledge partner INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. The Summit will bring together development agencies, sovereign funds from the Nordics, Eastern European and Middle Eastern impact investors so that development practitioners can figure out how to work seriously with impact investors. The reality of climate change and societal risk has led IID Summit participants to recognize that public funds and philanthropic funds are not enough to handle the task.

At the same time, we at SOCAP are convening a session in June in Manhattan to see what it will take to integrate impact investing with Wall Street at scale. That initiative, The Good Capital Project, (GCP) will be a two year online mapping project that will convene people from Wall Street, the financial sector, impact investing and the social capital market to catalyze collaboration and accelerate capital flows into purpose driven investments. After our first meeting in June, GCP participants will convene again at SOCAP in San Francisco in October, and on other event platforms as the participants require. These people may have never worked together before GPC, but SOCAP’s secret sauce is bringing the people out of their tents at the oasis; valuable strangers discovering they can be unlikely allies. Movement building, even among strangers, is right up our alley.
 

5 Ways to Be a Clean Money Revolutionary in 2017

February 24th, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Joel Solomon

My first book, The Clean Money Revolution, is coming out in May. So, you may be asking, what is clean money? 

Clean Money is money aligned with purpose: money that is about more than self-interest; money that prioritizes the commons; money that makes the world better. Clean money regenerates ecosystems, builds fairness and equity for people, and helps achieve a healthy balance between people and planet.

Clean Money is revolutionary, and it’s also evolutionary. It expands our view of finance from a bank balance, or net worth calculation, or the name of a company you own stock in.

Clean Money builds true security and real prosperity, based on long-term thinking, and a safe, fair resilient future.

Clean Money considers where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, regenerative, or destructive. From there, choices can be made. Choices that factor in the future of civilization.

We are in the midst of a great economic shift. It is a time of big challenges but also huge potential. The clean money revolution is the biggest opportunity for making money in history. Reinventing how we steward resources, feed, house, educate, transport, keep healthy, and employ humanity, while protecting natural systems, and the biosphere, are the prosperity drivers that can give us 500 more years of generative civilization.

This revolution can be peaceful, joyous, and smart. You will make it real.

5 Clean Money Practices

1. Invest as if lives depend on you.

Because they do. Be proactive. Research options. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI): screening global stocks and bonds for “less bad”, is a basic first step. Clean money thinks through where materials came from, who assembled them, and whether that process was just, or unjust, regenerative or destructive.

2. Ask annoying questions.

Wealth managers are seeing the trend. More insistent questions will lead to new products in mutual funds, retirement plans, bank accounts, insurance, and wealth management. Cleaner consumer goods, sourcing policies, environmental regulations, fair pay, and reduced discrimination, will follow.

3. Spend + invest locally.

Strengthen community. Recirculate dollars. Make better jobs. You can choose where you shop. Make choices that align with YOUR values.

4. Agitate, agitate, agitate.

Stand for what you believe in. Research. Get informed. Insist. Model it. Tell your friends. Be courageous. Use your influence. Take risks. Then go further. A movement is well underway, gaining momentum. It’s early. You are a leader.

5. Remember your ancestral responsibilities.

We are all ancestors, bloodline procreators or not. The people of many tomorrows are watching us. They want us to be smart and own responsibility for how we live our lives, what we consume, who we disadvantage, how we participate as citizens, and how our actions contribute to a safer, more loving, more just future.

Transitioning to clean money is no dutiful, painful exercise in morality. It is inspiring, invigorating, satisfying, life-enhancing. It gives meaning, purpose, and personal agency.

That’s what I mean by the Clean Money Revolution.

See you there.

Joel Solomon will be hosting the SOCAP 365 event “Capital Shifts for a Regenerative Economy: A Holistic Approach to Trends & Opportunities” at Impact Hub Berkeley on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Join Joel and a panel of leading thinkers and practitioners to discuss coming shifts in capital and how a “clean money revolution” might help us build a regenerative economic system that works for all. Learn more and get your tickets here.

 


 

Joel Solomon is Co-Founder and Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm, with $98MM under management. Renewal Funds invests in Organics and Envirotech.

With Founder + Funder Carol Newell, Joel implemented a “whole portfolio activation to mission” strategy as leader of her “activist family office”. As ED of the Endswell Foundation they spent down a $20M endowment, leaving Tides Canada Foundation and Hollyhock as legacy charities while supporting BC’s renowned environmental community. As CEO of Renewal Partners’ seed capital fund over $10M was placed into dozens of green companies.

Impact Investing for the 99%: A New Path to Mainstreaming

February 3rd, 2017

A SOCAP Guest Post by Joshua Levin of OpenInvest

All investments have impact. But to-date, impact investing has been largely limited to small, private companies, and accessible only to accredited investors. What if it were possible for normal folks to easily allocate their retirement portfolios in such a way that maximized the impact of their investments on issues they care about – e.g. climate change, gun control, gender diversity, etc? Such an innovation would unlock vast amounts of capital and consciousness, catalyzing the true mainstreaming of impact investing.

Individual investors are currently being left out of powerful movement. In public equities, over US $1 Trillion has moved into Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) strategies annually over the last 5 years [1]. Yet only a small fraction appears to be owned by retail investors. This despite the fact that according to Morgan Stanley, over 70% of individual investors now say they want their money to align with their values [2]. Given this chasm in even the most liquid and marketable asset classes, small wonder that impact investors have focused instead on getting big checks from Limited Partners (LPs).

But this “missing retail” segment – the amount of SRI assets individuals should hold if responsible investing had the same proportional ownership structure as the normal stock market – represents an approximate $3.6 Trillion opportunity in the U.S. alone.

Here’s how we can close the gap:

The first blockage to mainstreaming is lack of awareness. Most financial intermediaries have stood as a roadblock, with some statistics saying fewer than 10% of advisors, for example, are highly interested in sustainable investing solutions [3]. There is certainly no shortage of sustainable fund options and other tools for investors to start driving change. But the incentives of the Wall Street food chain generally militate against transparency and customization. Rather, they promote a “leave it to the experts” mentality, so that they can continue to sell preset portfolios that protect their margins.

Fortunately, technology makes it possible to dis-intermediate agents who are standing in the way, and to customize portfolios that invest in companies whose impact is consistent with each person’s values. This is our approach at OpenInvest. By bypassing the entire “fund” model and algorithmically constructing each user’s portfolio, investing once again becomes personal, transparent, and impactful. Users can now fully customize their investment portfolios and retirement accounts to support the things they care about.

But this is just the beginning. By vertically integrating and replacing middlemen with computing power, individual investors can now take new actions any time they want – in response to real-world events – while their portfolios always stay balanced and tracking the market. They can have full transparency into what they own, they can vote in their own shareholder resolutions, and they can see rigorous reporting of their real-time social and environmental impacts.

To mainstream, we need to make responsible investing easy, visceral, and social. That requires advanced technology, but then translating that technology into user experience. We can’t claim to have fully cracked that nut, but we’re making sufficient strides. OpenInvest has experienced nearly 20% week-over-week growth since our launch at SOCAP16 in September. It’s clear that the demand for impact investing is real and all around us.

Innovating in public equities is the obvious first step to engaging individual, unaccredited investors. But it’s also the way to build a sufficient demand pipeline to incentivize the impact investing community to open up. Starting this year, we will begin swapping out pieces of portfolios with alternative, impact investing products that we know users care about.

There are already impact products in the retail market – from new crowdfunding equity platforms to Calvert Community Notes. But for the motivated individuals who buy these, what does it mean for their diversification? Are you overweight solar, Indonesia, your local community? We believe the key to liberating unaccredited impact investors is to start from the top-down, with a fully balanced responsible portfolio. We can then offer to replace slices with deeper impact products, while always maintaining portfolio-level diversification. As such, we welcome partners from the SOCAP community to help get products onto our platform for our growing base.

To be clear: retail investors of the future will enjoy similar performance and diversification as their parents. But their holdings will cut across impact asset classes, as they see and feel where their money is going and how they are shaping the world every day.

Following Trump’s election and his subsequent actions, there’s more demand than ever to find new channels to drive change. Yet while they picket in the streets and write monologues on Facebook, individuals are letting their most powerful weapon – their assets – collect dust. The key is to start by giving public markets back to the public. Then we can create a pipeline of capital to help scale impact investing, while in turn restructuring personal portfolios to truly engage our communities and the world. Through a combination of technology and psychology, we now have the tools to democratize capital. Let’s cross that tipping point together.


Article sources:

1) US SIF 2016

2) Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

3) http://images.mscomm.morningstar.com/Web/MorningstarInc/%7Bf98afe5a-61b5-4b70-847f-54b8c3aa4788%7D_Morningstar-Mag_ESG_decjan16_Hale.pdf

SOCAP 365: Join Us in Conversation Year-Round

January 27th, 2017

By: Liz Maxwell, SOCAP 365 Product Manager

The world is very different since we gathered last September. Global markets will continue to be shaped by shifting political landscapes, at what feels distinctly like the beginning of a new era.

At SOCAP, we believe in cross-sector collaboration. We believe that diversity is a strength, that differing perspectives are valuable, and that the inclusion of broad voices is mandatory for meaningful dialogue. We know that market systems are dynamic and complex, and that sustained impact can only be built collectively over time.

In 2016, we launched the SOCAP 365 year-round event series. The intention is to convene the SOCAP community throughout the year in multiple locations. Our goal is to meet you where you are, dive deep locally, and build stronger regional alliances to support the continued growth of impact investing – both as a value-driven methodology and a strong community of practice.

 

SOCAP 365 Events in February and March

Here are immediate opportunities to join us at the first five SOCAP 365 events in 2017:

 
Additional events will be announced on a rolling basis; update your location here to receive invitations throughout the year to events happening near you.

In these changing times, we must gather. We must stay connected, remain committed to the work at hand, and remember the power we have to build strong alliances and global movements together.