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How to Solve the Great Resignation?

Three Ways the Impact Economy Can Play a Role

We’re seeing it all over. Companies can’t hire enough workers fast enough. But it’s not necessarily because business is booming. This week’s Washington Post story about the employee walkout in the fast food industry is just one of numerous examples across America that the great resignation continues.

How to explain it?

Paul Krugman recently tried, writing that the “great resignation” may really be about a “great rethink”. In other words, for those of us fortunate enough to avoid the worst effects of COVID, the pandemic afforded us time to reprioritize what’s most important to us – in our personal lives and in our careers.

Fight for a Better Tomorrow Protest Sign

Whether it’s a living wage, parental leave, or ensuring that the company you work for aligns with your values, employees are voting with their feet about what matters most. What I think Krugman was getting at is that many of us are rethinking where we find purpose in our lives – in our careers, in particular. And they are demanding that their employers, the people they do business with, and the companies who make the products that they buy – are aligned with that sense of purpose.

Rethink. Reset. For the past decade there is one place that has been growing consistently and organically that is aligned with purpose for all stakeholders involved – finance professionals, lawyers, analysts, service providers, customers, and employees. It’s called the impact economy.

Chintan Panchal on Regulating a Stakeholder-centric Impact Economy   Watch the Full Program

The promise of impact investing is that one day it will simply be called “investing”. Being a sustainable, responsible business will simply be called “a business”. But to get there we need companies to do more than use impact investing as window dressing to create an appearance of progress and authenticity.

The pandemic afforded us time to reprioritize what’s most important to us – in our personal lives and in our careers.

Here are three ways the impact economy may be what we need to turn the great resignation into a great reimagining – of how to unite purpose with the way we work.

Man Stepping

1. Be intentional and know the impact of your action (and inaction!) – Be intentional. There are stakeholders that are affected positively and negatively by the actions or inactions of your enterprise. Understand who these stakeholders are, what the effects are, and tie them back to what you’re doing as a business. I’ve written elsewhere about how law firms can do more to create a work environment that gives lawyers a sense of purpose. But you can apply this to every company. Businesses must help your employees understand why what they do matters – not just from a profit / loss standpoint but how what they are doing is impacting the world. Impact outcomes can’t just be nice to haves – they have to be deliberately incorporated into your strategy. Only then will you start to make a difference.

2. Take impact out of the marketing department (i.e., walk your talk!) – We’ve all heard it before – it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. It’s the same for businesses when it comes to talking about their sustainable agendas. Take DEI, for example. Since the George Floyd murder that sparked a nationwide conversation about social justice, corporations of all shapes and sizes are taking pains to demonstrate their inclusive policies and efforts to promote DEI. But stakeholders of these companies – investors, consumers, and so on must inquire about what these companies are actually doing. It’s not enough to make promises or say the right things – let’s hold organizations accountable for walking their talk, whether it’s DEI, divestment from fossil fuels, or another sustainability agenda.

3. It’s the impact economy, so put your money where your mouth is – Beyond being transparent with your stakeholders and marketing in a forthright way about your impact agenda, back it all up with your dollars. For example, you could tie compensation to your impact outcomes to get everyone internally aligned behind your agenda.

The world is changing – it has changed.

This may sound risky, but a surprising thing will happen – and I know from my own personal experience: your stakeholders will stick with you and respect you for the decision. The world is changing – it has changed. People care about the planet, they care about the social ramifications of investments and corporate policies and ultimately they will believe in you and choose you over a competitor who takes a cookie cutter approach to dealing with our biggest environmental and social challenges.

But don’t just take my word for it. Take Unilever, for example. Unilever, long committed to a sustainability agenda, eliminated quarterly reporting because they felt as though it detracted from their longer-term business plan. This was a groundbreaking move for a multinational, publicly traded company. If Unilever can take a stand like this, so can you.

A transformative figure and influencer since the early days of impact investing, Chintan Panchal Chintan is a Founding Partner and head of the U.S. region at RPCK, Rastegar Panchal, a global boutique law firm that specializes in co-creating and facilitating the launch of scalable and investible solutions that address some ... Read more
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