A Dictionary for the Future

Words are portals and maps to guide us towards a better, more humane future. Words have the capacity to transform and inspire us to make the necessary changes to ensure a way forward. What are the words that we need to be able to implement the UN Global Goals?   

Social enterprises address social needs by creating social value alongside financial value. Oftentimes they are committed to addressing a problem, such as waste, poverty or gender inequality. Many social enterprises have become certified as B Corporations to show their commitment to promoting social value. Some of the larger B Corps include Danone and Natura.

Social value is something that companies co-create, in the words of Indian conglomerate Tata; social value is co-created with stakeholders, shareholders, and boards. In our Social Value Creation Manifesto, Cheryl Kiser and I write that “social value creation is about transformation often through design, training, accessibility, and infrastructure.  Ultimately, social value creation is about re-imagining the purpose of business.”

How can companies unlock social value? Often through corporate social innovation:

Corporate social innovation is a strategy that combines a unique set of business assets (such as innovation, R&D, design, scale, marketing, logistics) to co-create breakthrough solutions to complex economic, social, and environmental issues that impact the sustainability of the business and of society.

Some compelling examples of social innovation from the Meaningful Business 100 leaders include:

Thread that dissolves: Alina Bassi of Kleiderly developed this innovation. She has also developed ways to turn used clothing into eyewear and hangers.  

Solar-powered hearing aids reduce the cost of hearing aids and extend their life, while decreasing the amount of batteries going to landfill. The social enterprise, Solar Ear, is pioneering this technology.

Vertical farming: AppHarvest is using vertical farming to minimize water use and land use in producing fruits and vegetables in rural Appalachia in the US.

How is your company or organization unlocking social value?

For more information on social value, see our book, Creating Social Value: A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers, Cheryl Kiser, Deborah Leipziger, and J. Janelle Shubert, Greenleaf Publishing.