Having even one client place their trust in us to help them have a positive social impact through their business while speeding their growth? Priceless. Having a whole group of clients give us that privilege and opportunity? That's a whole other level of gratitude.
Here are some of the highlights of 2019 - celebrating the decisions clients have made to turn their vision and their values into impact and advantage.
- A rapidly growing, high profile company with a large Boston area footprint committed to spending $1M in calendar year 2019 on purchases from Black and Latinx owned businesses in the area. They did this as part of a strategy to demonstrate awareness of the vibrant diversity of the region, and their commitment to building business relationships with players in the entire market. A year later - and they have done it. The impact? For the businesses they engaged, the dollars generate re-investment, contributing to hiring and growth in some small way. Even more significant is the effort the client has made to expose these vendors to others who are potentially in need of their services. It is early, but the effort has transformed our client's relationships with key influencers in the market. It has resulted in a dramatically more diverse mix of outstanding candidates applying for key roles, fueling a substantial increase in Black and Latinx hires in management roles.
- A prominent family-led real estate investment business elected to intentionally make room in the capital stack assembled for this year's major acquisition in order to include new and diverse investors including women and people of color. The company is already getting new insights and new business opportunities from their new partners, fueling the firm's interest in a more inclusive and high-impact approach to business.
- A technology company that had outgrown its early roots where the core values of the founders were clear and well-understood committed to a process of formally articulating core values and making them a demonstrable, accountable part of company culture.
- The CEO of an investment company is completing long-standing commitments to community organizations in order to free up the time and resources he needs to substantially re-orient the business. The new focus? Place development of renewable energy projects in urban settings at the center of their strategy. The shift in emphasis from philanthropy to a more intentional approach to business itself is not a net loss for the community. He'll always be very generous. It just means this client is embracing the outsized impact he can have by aligning the core business with his values.
- A commercial real estate holding company has elected to move aggressively toward reducing the carbon footprint of its portfolio by partnering with a fund that was set up to support deep energy efficiency retrofits for buildings. The significant savings that will result and the bragging rights awarded for a reduced carbon footprint will be shared by the fund's investors, the tenants, and our client.
- A financial institution convened a diversity and inclusion committee at the senior management level to develop the business case for expressly embracing diversity and inclusion as a core value and operating priority across the business. The result is still unfolding but will include a real increase in focus on recruiting and development of diverse talent and a new level of commitment to building commercial partnerships with a diverse array of businesses.
- A municipality with a population of more than 100,000 has committed to a full study of hiring and promotion policies and practices in all departments in order to ensure they are an employer of choice for diverse talent in a region with a hyper-competitive job market. Known widely for embracing progressive values, this city is challenging itself to push to the next level and walk the talk because the customer, a.k.a. resident, deserves and demands it.
I started this consultancy because I see a yearning to do better among the many senior business leaders I know; and because I can present them with the data to show that their instinct is correct. Expectations have changed and it is time - urgently - to commit to values and a vision that generates what renowned Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter calls "shared value." Our clients do plenty of "good" but we do not talk about "giving back" to the community. We talk about making sure all major and even minor decisions are emblematic of the values and vision of the company or organization they are leading. Sustainable and sound. Ignore stakeholders at your peril. It's very gratifying to see these words come alive in tremendous businesses.
We succeed because individual leaders step up to the challenge of better. The work they do with us is what they will be talking about with family at their holiday meals during this festive season. We know that because they tell us. For that privilege, and for a year of impact, I am grateful and we wish everyone happy holidays and a happy and healthy new year.
Andy Tarsy is Principal and Founder of Emblem Strategic LLC.