IC Matters › Engagement

Help employees become social intrapreneurs. For planet Earth, and for profit.

Leanne CarmodyLeanne Carmody·

Social intrapreneurs…. I cannot tell you the amount of times that I have had to repeat these words with an emphasis on intra.

For the past couple of years, social entrepreneurs have been the celebrated stars of the entrepreneurial world. They are the people who start companies designed to address the world’s biggest challenges while also generating profit. As with any entrepreneur, these people risk a lot when they start a business. It is a tough, long road. Getting to the scale needed to create the desired impact takes time, energy, resources and perseverance. The stakes are high for everyone.

When I say everyone, I really mean everyone. The world is under extreme pressure right now. As economies grow, so too does the demand for everything. We simply do not have enough resources to meet the needs of 7 billion people, 1 billion of whom are entering the global middle class and have dreams, needs and ambitions. At the current rate of consumption, it is estimated that we need to have 1.5 worlds. We don’t have that, so we need to get creative and find ways to provide for everyone while not completely depleting our planet.

At the same time, we are experiencing extreme weather that is affecting millions of people, their countries, cities and economies. The fact is we only have one planet and we haven’t been treating it well. We all need to start thinking about how we are going to preserve our world.

This is where social intrapreneurs come in. Yes, social entrepreneurs and NGOs are working tirelessly on these challenges. However, if the planet is to thrive and our resources are to be preserved, the business world holds the key. They now need to start using it and I believe that social intrapreneurs can help show them how.

Social intrapreneurs are employees who come up with ideas and take on initiatives that do well for their companies and also do good for society. They are game changers. These purpose-driven individuals look at the world’s challenges and develop approaches and innovations that address these issues, while also benefitting their company’s financial performance and reputation.

What makes these people even more special is that they take on these initiatives and drive their ideas alongside their existing roles and responsibilities. They haven’t been hired to do this, they simply believe it is the right thing to do. They tend to have similar characteristics, such as being entrepreneurial, socially conscious, connecting and courageous.

In a world where a company’s success is measured primarily based on its financial success and sustainability is often seen as a risk rather than an opportunity, the path of the social intrapreneur is not plain sailing. In order to enable these change makers, we need to have leaders and corporate cultures that support them.

We need to motivate and inspire leaders to change their perspective and to be open to new ideas that are good for business and society. One essential way of doing this is to talk about the financial opportunity. The economic value to be unlocked by the Sustainable Development Goals has been estimated to be USD$12 trillion, annually, by the year 2030. Surely this is a business opportunity that would be crazy to miss?

Thankfully there are Business Leaders who understand the urgency and see the opportunity. Groups such as the B-team, initiated by Sir Richard Branson, are starting to recognise that profit and planet are not mutually exclusive. They are the pioneers and luckily, they are helping more leaders to see the light.

At the same time, we need purpose-driven corporate cultures that nurture and empower social intrapreneurs. Cultures that value innovation and sustainability, practice open dialogue and encourage autonomy. Many companies have some of these cultural aspects, but not enough live and breathe them.

Imagine if they did.

Imagine working for a company that truly lives its purpose and where every decision is based on being good for planet and profit. Imagine being part of a company that leaves a legacy to be proud of, a legacy that betters the lives of generations to come.

Imagine being the person helping to shape that corporate legacy.

Now imagine being a social intrapreneur. It is possible. All of us have the power to change the world. We just need more people and companies to get on board…

It is the mission of The Social Intrapreneurz to create a movement to harness the power of social intrapreneurs to make them and their companies thrive.


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