Jan 29

Introducing the Social Impact Insider

Paul Massey


Social Impact Insider

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Introducing the Social Impact Insider

At Weber Shandwick, we’re excited to introduce you to the Social Impact Insider, a monthly newsletter designed to deliver you the latest must-read news and insights on the innovations, trends and influencers driving the global social impact agenda across sectors and industries.

Highlighted throughout this inaugural edition is the role of the private sector in accelerating progress on the United Nations’ Global Goals and the COP21 climate change agreement. Both agendas influenced conversations at the World Economic Forum last week in Davos — and will shape corporate shared value and sustainability strategies for the next several years.

Want the Social Impact Insider delivered to your inbox monthly? Subscribe using the sign-up form in the right sidebar of this page.



A Push for Gender Equality at the Davos World Economic Forum, and Beyond
Noting the lack of diversity at Davos, Theresa Whitemarsh, head of the Washington State Investment Board, and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, head of U.N. Women’s HeForShe campaign, share two impactful solutions to gender inequality in the workplace. The New York Times


What Millennials Really Want
As the largest working generation, Millennials have the power to shape the future of work. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Impact Survey finds that to engage this purpose-driven demographic, employers must make a social impact. Fast Company


With Imposed Transparency and Concerned Millennials, a Boom in Corporate Responsibility?
Motivated by transparency and a socially conscious workforce, more corporations are prioritizing corporate social responsibility — not as a marketing move, but as a foundational business element. The New York Times


Tech Companies Make High-Dollar Commitments to Tackle Social Issues
The tech sector kicked off 2016 with significant philanthropic commitments to tackle critical social issues:

  • Microsoft pledged $1 billion in cloud space to nonprofits in an effort to combat the “digital divide.” Fortune
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg committed $31 million in Facebook stocks to nonprofits supporting women’s empowerment and girls in tech. Re/code
  • Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings launched a $100 million fund to support access to college for minorities. The Washington Post



Meet the Nine Billion-Dollar Companies Turning a Profit from Sustainability
More and more companies are not only embracing a social impact ethos, but also seeing profit increases that are directly attributable to their sustainable practices and products. The Guardian


Doing Business in a Post-Paris World
With a renewed emphasis on collaboration and corporate involvement in the fight against climate change following COP21, businesses are setting strategies with an environmentally-conscious lens. GreenBiz


No Company Can Solve a Massive Global Problem On Its Own
From climate change to economic inequality to global conflict — tackling the world’s complex challenges will require diverse coalitions and public-private partnerships. Harvard Business Review



The Ford Foundation’s Quest to Fix the World
An in-depth profile of the Ford Foundation and its charismatic president Darren Walker shines a light on the challenges that even well-funded groups face in their quests for social justice. The New Yorker


The Hidden Lives of America’s Poor and Middle Class
The researchers behind the U.S. Financial Diaries project found that the barriers to economic mobility have changed dramatically — and so must the products, programs and policies intended to address them. Stanford Social Innovation Review


'Age of megacrises' requires new humanitarian solutions, says U.N.
A panel of experts commissioned by the U.N. to recommend solutions for the humanitarian funding gap have called for a larger, more efficient and transparent donor system, coupled with programs to reduce crises by tackling their root causes. Devex



Smart Africa: Big-data tools transform business
Social entrepreneurs are bringing big data access to Africa, enabling small businesses, farmers and policy makers there to better connect with international investors, share strategies and foster global economic growth. Financial Times


Crowdfunded Journalism: A Small but Growing Addition to Publicly Driven Journalism
Crowdfunding is creating a small but noteworthy niche media segment for public interest stories that don’t typically make the news. Pew Research Center


Global Goals:
Private Sector Opportunity

The United Nations’ new Global Goals for Sustainable Development are a universal set of 17 targets focused on ending poverty, reducing inequality and tackling climate change. This ambitious 15-year agenda calls on the private sector to help address these challenges—and leading corporations are heeding the U.N.’s call to action. For example, Mars, Inc. issued a graphic showing how its business supports all 17 goals, and Pfizer conveyed its commitment to advancing the sustainable development agenda via video. Private sector momentum continued to build around the goals at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos with the launch of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development. Led by Unilever CEO Paul Polman, the commission will be dedicated to making the business case for supporting the Global Goals. (Unilever and Mars, Inc. are Weber Shandwick clients.)

At Weber Shandwick, we are proud to support more than 150 client assignments focused on poverty, hunger, gender equality, economic development and more. Learn how we’re helping clients communicate action and impact on the Global Goals in this short video.

Nov 20

UN Global Goals: Investing in What Matters

Paul Massey

The recent United Nations General Assembly convened 193 member states and took an important step in approving new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, focused on critical areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.

This ambitious agenda for the next 15 years recognizes that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with efforts to build economic growth and address a range of social needs, including tackling climate change.

It’s an agenda that Weber Shandwick is energized to support – and has been supporting – in partnership with our clients. Weber Shandwick is proud to be supporting more than 150 client assignments focused on the 17 new Global Goals, spanning creative campaigns focused on poverty, hunger, gender equality, economic growth and more – some of which are featured in the short video below. 

In meeting these new goals, there is a powerful opportunity for leadership from the private sector – to bring financial resources, human capital and innovation to bear on complex social issues. We look forward to continuing to support organizations that will have a major impact on the success of the Global Goals in the decades to come.

Nov 3

How to Follow #BSR15

Emily Semmelman

Weber Shandwick is the global agency partner for the BSR Conference 2015: Resilient Business, Resilient World. Our Social Impact team will be sharing insights from the conference on this blog.


This week, members of our Social Impact team are in San Francisco attending the annual BSR Conference. This year's conference focuses on resilience and will explore how through innovation collaboration, businesses can position themselves to not only survive, but thrive, through fundamental change.


How to Follow Along

  1. Check Out the Storify: We’ll be weaving together the best tweets from the week so you can check out what’s happening at the conference in one stop. Check it out below or follow along here.

  2. Connect on Social: Our team will be sharing insights all week on Twitter @WSSocialImpact Join the conversation on our handle and #BSR15.

  3. Tune in to the Livestream: BSR will broadcast much of the conference, including plenary and I3 speakers and the Take10 and Collaboration in Action sessions. Visit the conference homepage to learn more.

We're proud to be a sponsor again this year, and to partner with BSR on its strategic communications work. We'll be sharing insights throughout the week, and if you are at #BSR15 be sure to look for Paul, Kate, Katy and Emily.



Oct 28

The Potential and Progress of Networked Smart Cities

Lauren Klein


Cities are amazing. Whether Beijing or New York, Delhi or Singapore, Sao Paulo or Paris, these metropolises of millions bring together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives and throw them together in a sea of humanity. In the best of those cities, there are incredible smarts and partnerships at work cultivating economic opportunity and improving quality of life for residents.

But much of the potential of “Smart Cities” is still untapped. With more than half the world’s population living in cities today - and that number only set to grow - there is an incredible opportunity to source and scale innovation within and across global cities to ensure our urban centers provide a vibrant, equitable, sustainable and livable environment.

Given this immense opportunity and the challenges that go along with it, our Social Impact team took a deep look at the Networked Smart Cities movement to see what role different sectors can and should play to advance this work and communicate progress. This smart cities report is the first in a series of investigations into the key macro trends that are shaping the future of social impact work.

Estimates indicate the global market potential for smart cities - infrastructure development, technology integration, and e-government, energy and security services - could reach $3.3 trillion by 2025. Much of that market potential will be realized by collaborative investments in solutions and innovations that address inclusivity, sustainability and resiliency. This then requires greater capacity to identify the right partnerships, communicate complex ideas to and among stakeholders, and engage the larger citizenry in campaigns that galvanize support and action at all levels – from local communities to networked city ecosystems that connect people across geography and technology.

We explore these themes in our new report Networked Smart Cities. We invite you to take a look and let us know what you think. Stay tuned for additional reports with insights on how key trends - from improved transparency to inclusive economies - are transforming how people, organizations and systems connect to drive positive change.

Jun 11

Meeting the Transparency Challenge

Paul Massey

How are foundations bringing transparency to their work to solve complex, global challenges?

That’s the question that was the focus of a standing-room-only event that Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact team hosted in Washington, DC.

Marc Gunther, editor-at-large of The Guardian Sustainable Business and author of the blog Nonprofit Chronicles moderated a discussion with clients including Jeremy Hill, Director of Corporate Communications at the World Bank; Joanne Krell, Vice President of Communications at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and Allyson Burns, Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Case Foundation.

The conversation was candid, fluid, and interactive, focusing on how organizations are prioritizing transparency – and identifying the most meaningful and sustainable ways to report on impact.  The consensus of the evening was that while progress has undoubtedly been made toward increased transparency, there is still important ground to be covered. Panelists offered the following as advice:

  • Fail Forward: Be open and honest about missteps and share lessons learned with the broader philanthropic community. Allyson Burns of the Case Foundation spoke frankly about the importance of failure to the overall transparency discussion. She spoke about the contrast between start-ups, which often support a fast-paced, iterative, failure-as-a-positive environment, and philanthropic organizations which tend to embrace a more risk averse, slower moving culture. As Allyson Burns suggested, perhaps foundations could learn something from the open-sourced mindset that makes start-ups so successful.  The Case Foundation’s #BeFearless campaign, which Weber Shandwick helped to launch, is about failing forward (faster) to move on to things that work more effectively.
  • Bring Your Stakeholders With You: Include those who support you on your journey. According to Joanne Krell of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, “shared knowledge is a critical component of social impact and in order to create real change, foundations need to more effectively communicate to core stakeholders.” Additionally, Joanne spoke about the foundation’s efforts to build an organizational culture that supports increased transparency.
  • It’s a Journey: Integrating more transparency into day-to-day operations takes time.  Jeremy Hillman of the World Bank noted that being more open with your stakeholders is a long and potentially daunting process.  It takes significant planning and time to cultivate a transparency mindset within an organization.  In addition to younger donors seeking transparency in reporting, Hillman also noted that increasing pressure from large donors is going to push the professionalization of giving.

Check out the photo gallery below, and follow Social Impact on Twitter at @WSSocialImpact for the latest on trends and insights in corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and social issues.





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