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2015 Net Impact Annual Conference Brings Together Mission-Driven Leaders

Clarkston participated in Net Impact’s 2015 Conference alongside mission-driven leaders from across the world. Keynotes for the conference included executives from REI, Starbucks, KIND Snacks, The Gates Foundation, The Clinton Foundation, and The Green Bronx Machine, all of whom spoke to what inspires their work and the challenges they are overcoming within their industries.

This year’s theme for the conference was “Game On”; the goal was to inspire attendees that now is the time to drive an impact. There are more than 46,000 non-profits in the United States that are working towards solutions for poverty, health, equality or other areas related to sustainable development.

As a result of growing consciousness, for-profits are more proactively finding ways “to do business in a way that profits and social or environmental impact encourage one another,” noted Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO of KIND Snacks. To do so, companies are building business models that incorporate giving back. Below are a few examples of companies leading this effort through changes in human resources, product innovation, and operations.

  • Over 30 companies including Starbucks, Microsoft, and Walmart have made a commitment to hire 100,000 young workers, who face systemic barriers to jobs and education, to create a pathway to employment.
  • TOMS will move one-third of their manufacturing for shoes they give, to countries where product is donated to support local economies.
  • Sseko Designs has created a program where a portion of compensation is directly added to an education fund for their facility in East Africa.
  • Certified B Corporations, Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium Brewing have partnered, through new product innovation, to fight climate change by contributing to Protect Our Winters (POW)
    (B Corporations are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency).
  • Honest Tea is continuing to find ways to increase the percentage of organic ingredients in their products.

With each of these impactful, innovative ideas comes new challenges. Moving into 2016, how will corporations improve how they address growing social and environmental issues—and who is measuring the result?

Thank you to Net Impact for hosting this year’s conference, and to all of the participants that contributed valuable insights.