By Stephanie Peng
My closing SMIF blog post is inspired by a project one of my fellow REDF interns worked on this summer. REDF's Farber program has been in place since 1997, bringing 17 cohorts of graduate students, mostly from MBA programs, together for a summer to learn about employment social enterprise in the U.S. The Farber program started at a time when the social sector was barely on business school students' radar. But now, with rapidly growing awareness and interest, REDF is asking itself if it is time to redesign the Farber program to be more cutting edge. This in turn has prompted me to think about what are the barriers today to attracting talent to the social sector. I'll break down a few barriers below.
I have spent the summer working for a medium sized nonprofit organization; they have an annual turnover of around $300,000 and employ five full time staff. I would like to write about the challenges that this organization faces - and what I have learnt from those about nonprofits in general - and as such will keep the name of the charity, and the nature of the work, anonymous.
When I first applied to Stanford I'd heard that Touchy Feely was the most important class offered - a class that helps you understand your own style of social interactions and helps you improve upon those interactions. However, I didn't understand the value of that class until my summer internship. All I know is that I need that class and I need it pronto!
In my previous work environments, including investment banking and private equity, I really only worked with people with extremely similar educational and professional backgrounds as me. This summer I worked with people with all different kinds of backgrounds. It turns out that a workplace with diversity in educational and professional experiences is very tough! However, it's also incredibly more common than my experiences in homogenous work environments. The below blog post includes a few key examples of tough interpersonal situations that I experienced while working as director of operations for a charter school in Brooklyn, New York.
When I first started working in the social sector I was obsessed with program scale. I'm not anymore.
This summer I am working for the Aspen Institute in two capacities. First, I am codirector of a policy program called the Impact Careers Initiative. Second, I am assisting with the ongoing progress of the Franklin Project.
Social entrepreneurs and impact investors have had a repeated debate over the tradeoff between social impact and financial return. This summer, I confirmed my belief that a direct tradeoff exists. In fact, I learned that the only way to be effective operationally is to identify where this tradeoff exists and to define an organization’s intended impact and the resulting financial return.
Every morning I walk down LaSalle Street and look at the architecture of Chicago's financial institutions on my way to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Chicago Fed has watched over these institutions, at least figuratively, since its Corinthian colonnade was constructed in 1922.
Frustrating. Galling. This is how some of the best social sector leaders I know describe the fact that funding to intermediaries and consultants often dwarfs the support they receive for their work on real issues at the front lines. I’m not talking a small differential – the disparity is large.
This summer, I resumed my pre-GSB life as a classroom teacher for a couple hours each day.
How are corporations engaging with the impact sector? How do we engage them even more? How do we increase collaboration between global corporations, impact investors, social enterprises and foundations? Are partnerships between global corporations and social enterprises successful? How are apparel companies shifting into a disruptive innovation in their supply chains?
In I-DEV International, we wanted to answer all these questions.