#TheLadiesAreComing

In my 9 months living in LA, I've been blown away by the collective energy among women coming together to genuinely help one another socially and economically. I've seen this come in the form of women's networking groups like Tuesday Nights and We Are Enough, as well as online communities forming dedicated to gender lens impact investing like Women Effect

One group in particular that I've gotten involved with here in Los Angeles is called SheEO. Beyond just being a catchy title, it is one of the only programs I've come across that is actively turning the world of funding for female entrepreneurs on its head. SheEO does this through a concept called #radicalgenerosity.

The idea is simple. Get 1,000 women each to commit $1,000,  creating a pool of $1,000,000 for 10 selected female entrepreneurs to scale and grow their business. The model not only increases the number of women investing in other women, but also opens new channels of funding for female entrepreneurs.

SheEO will launch city by city across the world, with the goal of reaching 1,000 cities by 2020. That equals $1 billion in funding for 10,000 women-led ventures!

I attended SheEO's event LA launch event today,  and was moved to hear the Founder, Vicki Saunders, ask why in 2016 we even need an organization like SheEO. Unfortunately, the numbers don't lie. Even though women worldwide are starting business at 1.5x the pace of men, we are only getting roughly 4% of the venture capital.  

This isn't just a gender equality issue, it is an economic imperative. 6 million new jobs would be created if female entrepreneurs were funded to the same degree as men. Clearly, something is not working with our current model, and it's time we changed that.

To learn more about SheEO and sign up, visit https://www.sheeo.world/become-an-activator/

I am in. Are you? 

Landing a Job in Corporate Social Responsibility

I was recently asked to become a mentor for the Women's Accelerator group here in Los Angeles. The group is filled with powerhouse women across a variety professional sectors, each dedicated to giving back the wisdom they've so freely been given over the years. I've had the privilege of working with many female mentors over the years, and felt honored to have the opportunity to participate.

I was paired with a young professional eager to enter the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) field here in Los Angeles. Our goal in working together over the next 6 months is to help her transition her career from event planning to a role in CSR. Since these types of jobs are rarely posted online, and often given to existing employees within companies, I've been giving a lot a thought to the type of advice and support I can give.

I consider myself lucky that I was given the opportunity to follow my passion and start the Cause Marketing department at AOL with no prior experience in the field. What I lacked in formal experience I made up in business acumen, having spent the previous 3 years in advertising sales at the company. The sales role made me acutely aware of how the company made money, a key element of how I pitched the role and ultimately laid the groundwork for the AOL Charitable Foundation. 

My experience getting into CSR from within an existing company is not entirely unique. It is a relatively new field and one that is evolving every day. More and more schools are creating degrees to better prepare students for these types of roles, but the reality is we're all more or less paving new paths as we go along. With that said, here a few suggestions I've come up with for those interested in making this career transition, as well as a comprehensive list below of resources you may find helpful!  

1) Get connected. As in most fields, it really comes down to who you know. What does this mean for you? Look up local CSR chapters or groups where you live. Identify a few conferences you think are worthy of your time. Don't be afraid to say you are you looking to make a career change, and are eager to learn as much as you can. LinkedIn is also a great place to identify who has your dream job

2) Get educated. Unless you've had the luxury of going to school to become a CSR professional, chances are you are learning as you go. That's certainly what I did, but there is no reason to fly totally blind. There are ton of great resources online to check out, books, as well as short-term certificate programs to provide you with basic fundamentals. 

3) Get going. I'm a big believer in maximizing value at your current workplace before you make the jump. What can you do at your existing job to get the type of hands-on work required of a CSR professional? Is there an internal employee who manages CSR initiatives that you can talk to and shadow? If the answer is no, what types of ideas do you have for making the company better? An employee volunteerism program, or perhaps an employee matching program whereby employees are incentivized to give back to their favorite charities? Investigate who is (or would be) making these types of decisions and offer to help. The reality is the majority of CSR professionals are hand-picked from within their company, so make sure your employer knows that could be you! 

I am always happy to talk more on this topic. Please feel free to email me with specific questions or additional advice. As far as I'm concerned, the more I can do my part to help like-minded people drive impact through business, the better! 

With gratitude, 

Blair 

 

Networking Groups: 

     Net Impact: https://www.netimpact.org

     Conscious Capitalism: http://www.consciouscapitalism.org . ** I also recommend attending their annual conference and reading the Conscious Capitalism book written by Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey

     Meetup CSR Groups: http://www.meetup.com/CSR-Unplugged/ ** Note different cities offer different meet-ups, so worthy of doing your homework

Reading:

      CSRwire: http://www.csrwire.com/

      HuffPost Impact: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/impact/

      We First: http://wefirstbranding.com/blog/

      Profit & Purpose Newsletter: http://kylewestaway.com/weekend-briefing

Conferences:

      Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship: http://ccc.bc.edu/ ** Note BCCC offers certificate programs which I completed early in my CSR career

      Cause Marketing Forum: www.causemarketingforum.com ** Note the Cause Marketing Forum offers 101 educational programs which I took early in my CSR career

      Sustainable Brands: http://www.sustainablebrands.com/

 

If you have any other recommended readings or events, please share in the comments section!

 

Greetings From LA!

Starting a business from the ground up in a new city is no easy feat. I started BWC Consulting when I moved from New York to Los Angeles just 8 months ago. The bulk of my 8-year New York City career was spent working in and alongside companies and social enterprises to develop their philanthropic strategy and partnership models. In that time I developed a great network and knowledge of the CSR community in NYC, which I've committed myself to doing here in LA over the past 8 months. 

Through my LA client base and personal networking, I've had the privilege of meeting many incredible individuals, organizations, and companies dedicated to creating their own version of impact here in sunny Los Angeles. While still considered by many (ahem, New Yorkers) as the city where celebrity status defines you, Los Angeles has blown me away in terms of the innovation and dedication to moving our society forward.

I live on the West Side of Los Angeles in Santa Monica, near the area called 'silicon beach.' I imagine it was TOMS that spawned the true social entrepreneurship model here on the West side, coupled with the influx of New York and San Francisco transplants who are helping to bring technical chops into the entertainment capital. Regardless, it's been a treat to watch these companies develop and grow out here~ and I want to call out a few that I'm really excited about (all Benefit Corporations): 

  • Thrive Market, who is on a mission to democratize access to quality food
  • Aspiration Finance, who believes good investment tools shouldn't just exist for the 1%
  • Beauty Counter, who thinks toxin-free skin care and cosmetics should be a given and not a luxury 

The concept of philanthropy is not new to LA by any means, especially in the entertainment dominated areas of Beverly Hills and Century City. All of the big talent agencies like CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and UTA (United Talent Agency) run their own charitable foundations that seek to leverage the power of their celebrities and show-business to promote worthy causes. The Entertainment Industry Foundation is probably best known for this type work, with their signature star-studded programs like Stand Up to Cancer. Although a more standard approach to giving compared to the B-Corp examples listed above, it is clear companies big and small, East and West of I-10, are doing their part to improve society here in Los Angeles.

I've been taking mental notes over these 8 months about the social impact trends I've been witnessing, and will be writing this blog on a regular basis to share out what I've been learning. My hope is that it sparks connection, education, and most importantly, inspiration.

It's a great time to be living in Los Angeles, and I'm eager for the opportunity to meet and work with more inspiring individuals looking to make an impact through their personal and professional giving.

More to come, but for now, have a great week!

Blair 

Founder, BWC Consulting