Will 2023 be the year for the business of impact?
Corporate leaders are keenly aware of the world’s polycrisis situation – and they have the power to address social and environmental challenges in ways few others in the impact space can. Will 2023 be the year for the business of impact? We hope so.
The context is crisis
Between wars, food shortages, energy problems and economic instability, we are living in a polycrisis situation. The corporate world has taken note. Topics of climate and sustainability have been central to the discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, signifying a noticeable shift toward what corporate impact stakeholders care about most. Instead of the usual focus on intent, there has been a significant commitment to action, in particular for corporates to further embed sustainability into the core business.
As to how this will happen, it’s complicated. But one place companies are starting is ESG.
The pulse of ESG in 2023
Legislation around the globe has pushed corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) action forward. It isn't just that investors, customers and employees expect companies to do more on those fronts; CEOs themselves now recognize ESG as both a business imperative and growth driver.
ESG can be a way to open new revenue streams, lower costs, attract and retain talent and reduce regulatory risk. In fact, companies that actively drive and transform their business with positive environmental and social impact in mind are likely to prove more successful and resilient, and generate more shareholder value in the medium- to long-run.
Path to purpose
Sustainability is a company’s passport to operate into the future. Corporate social investors (CSIs) have a key role in generating impact at scale and also serving the purpose of their organisation. In fact, last year we made the case that corporate social investors may be the key to putting the S in ESG.
CSIs are at the vanguard of understanding their corporate entity’s impact journey, and represent an untapped opportunity for contribution to the S in ESG. The big question is whether corporate decision-makers are sufficiently aware of this effect. While we see a number of companies merging their Sustainability and Strategy departments, the question of corporate readiness to become net positive remains central – but unresolved – in many corporate organisations.
Only corporate readiness can make the pioneering ideas of CSIs a reality. And although some senior management stakeholders are willing to create more coherence between impact and business agendas to serve their purpose, they don’t always realise that corporate social investors need further empowerment to deliver on their goals for positive social change.
Indeed, corporate social investors could be further leveraged as a learning lab to test social and environmental solutions. Such programs would be a unique opportunity to influence business models, making their practices more inclusive and sustainable.
The goals of CSIs and senior management are increasingly overlapping. It’s the action that’s slower to come together. But actually, we’re working on a plan for that...
New year, new you!
While in the past, EVPA’s C Summit event has brought CSIs and corporate decision makers to the same table, their dialogues have remained mostly in the realm of ideas and theory. This year’s program – with a new name to match! -- will be more action-oriented.
Specifically, we’ll bring together corporate leaders and CSIs to share their journey to purpose – and their perspectives on deploying impact capital collectively and effectively. The end goal: accelerating the corporate impact journey.
We’re convinced 2023 will see a new level of corporate resolve in driving positive change. Interested in being a part of it? Stay tuned for the event-formerly-known-as-C-Summit announcement – coming in March!