A new mindset for social impact - the Community Without Walls

As our local, national and global landscape continue to reflect some unsettling times, I am reminded just how important it is to approach social impact work with an empathetic, thoughtful and proactive mindset.  I call this approach “the community without walls.” 

Every day individuals and families experience real health, economic and environmental challenges.  These challenges are naturally brought into neighborhood, school, and workplace environments.  The day-to-day struggle of having basic needs met is a reality for many individuals as they strive to find strength, grit, and opportunity to improve their quality of life. As a social impact consultant, these ever-growing community needs drive me to stay laser-focused on how my clients can apply their resources and skill sets to address pressing challenges while keeping their businesses strong.

Therefore, how we tackle societal challenges ranging from health to education to the environment requires us to see (figuratively) and understand what’s happening inside our homes, businesses, and educational and health institutions.  This comprehensive perspective and understanding of how all aspects of our lives interconnect is crucial for effective problem-solving and thoughtfully supporting one another. 

As we look to refresh our social impact goals, strategy and programs think about how your company and workforce can be hyper present and visible.  Explore how your company and teams can open its doors (virtually and/or physically) and intentionally rally behind one or more social issue needs leveraging your company’s diverse resources.  This approach for corporate social impact embracing a “community without walls” is highly intentional in these ways:


Invest in a Societal Issue Need You Can Truly Impact:

If your company does not already have a focused issue space, now is the time to identify where you can lead.  The hierarchy of community needs continues to shift and expand—so where can your company’s assets and skills make the biggest difference?  As companies continue to advance programs around health, education, and economic development, this work will require a new level of cross-sector collaboration, bold thinking and determination.


Support the Health and Wellness of Your Workforce:

Mental health and wellness is an issue that is prevalent in some aspect of all of our lives, either personally and/or professionally.  No matter where you sit in your company, employees need a clear understanding of how your organization seeks to support their health and well-being, especially their mental health.  Where possible, find ways to provide additional time off and offer customized wellness programming which could include stress management, peer support, and well-being resources. These programs should not be “one size fits all.”


Address Student Learning Gaps with Skills-based Volunteerism:

Apply the expertise, creativity and time of your employees to support local schools as they strive to keep students on track.  This is not only true during the school year but also during the critical summer months, when learning gaps are often addressed.  This virtual and/or in-person effort could look like 1-1 academic tutoring, homework help and support for younger students and college and career coaching for older students.


Increase Career Exposure and Work Experience for Young People:

Offer meaningful work experiences, including paid internships, apprenticeships and other mentorship opportunities for high school and college students to help them gain exposure to potential career pathways and build their resumes.  These programs can be virtual and in-person, providing windows for young people to see how their learning and development in school can connect to the world of work.


Ensure Your Actions Are Inclusive and Address Inequities:

When making decisions around how to invest your dollars, engage your employees and take other leadership actions, make sure you are being inclusive in the populations you look to serve and understand their needs.  Take the time to know your issue space, analyze data and speak to experts to ground your decision-making in a thoughtful, equitable approach.


I continue to be inspired as I work alongside business leaders who care about their companies, their employees and society.  I am filled with hope that we can take on the challenges that lie ahead staying focused and driven to live as one community, without walls.

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