Reconsidered is a bi-weekly newsletter curating thought-provoking content on corporate social responsibility, sustainability and social impact. Click here to subscribe.
I’ve heard a lot of conversation this week about Anand Giridharadas’ provocative editorial in The New York Times — “Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World” (shared below). In it, he dismisses most corporate responsibility and non-profit efforts as “fake change” — or “change the powerful can tolerate.”
I agree with Giridharadas’ view that many social responsibility efforts ignore the deeper systemic issues that lead to inequality. We need proper business incentives. And tax reform. And a smartly-designed social safety net. But the provocative headline dismisses so much of the progress made by the social impact sector. And it ignores the fact that so-called “fake change” efforts have the power to raise consciousness and elevate the conversation in a way that can ultimately lead to “real change”.
What did you think about the article?
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This Week's Five Links
Beware Rich People Who Say They Want to Change the World — The New York Times
In this op-ed, author Anand Giridharadas uses the term “fake change” to describe most corporate responsibility and non-profit efforts out there. Sure, it’s technically change, he argues. But it’s change “the powerful can tolerate” because it doesn’t topple existing power structures. There’s truth in what he says, and it’s certainly a wake-up call to not become complacent with incremental efforts. But change is messy and complex. Some believe the only way forward is to dismantle the system, while others choose to work within it to effect what change they can. There’s room for both approaches to exist. In fact, I’d argue that it’s necessary. Business as a force for good isn’t the only answer, but has to be a part of the solution.
What Would It Take to Get Businesses to Focus Less on Shareholder Value? — Harvard Business Review
In related news, a few weeks ago U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill called the Accountable Capitalism Act that would make businesses accountable not only to their executives and shareholders, but also to all the stakeholders that support them. This article takes a deeper dive into what this means and offers some concrete ideas for how it could be enacted. To make it work, “we need to change the rules so that racing to the bottom is no longer the most effective way to compete, and to ensure that treating people well is the profitable thing to do.” 👏👏👏
Chanel Shoes, but No Salary: How One Woman Exposed the Scandal of the French Fashion Industry — The Guardian
Human rights abuses in the fashion supply chain is an ugly stain on an industry supposedly devoted to aesthetics. But a recent book by anthropologist Giulia Mensitieri brings to light another dirty secret of the fashion world: the exploitation of entry-level employees who, instead of receiving a living wage, are often paid in clothing vouchers and even social currency. There are so many powerful insights in this article that covers the psychology of denial, the dangers of normalization and why the radical act of simply talking about this form of exploitation is key to ending it.
Colin Kaepernick Makes Nike Seem More Progressive Than It Is — Fast Company
Colin Kaepernick is the new face of Nike, and the public reaction is just about what you’d expect. While some are burning their Nikes (🙄), others are buying new ones and posting their receipts online in solidarity. In our black-and-white, good-and-bad, highly polarized world, one interesting question emerges from the gray area: does Nike deserve our unadulterated praise when its track record includes past labor abuses and, more recently, inequitable treatment of women at its corporate headquarters? Brands can be incredibly influential advocates for social change. But if they don’t walk the walk, how can we take their message seriously?
Y Combinator Learns Basic Income Is Not So Basic After All — WIRED
Startup incubators like Y Combinator bet on their ability to predict the future. Y Combinator president Sam Altman is betting that automation will create a lot of wealth, but also kill a lot of jobs. His answer is Universal Basic Income — that “crazy fringe idea” that no longer seems crazy at all. Next year, Y Combinator plans to launch a $60 million UBI pilot program in two U.S. states. This WIRED article looks into how the pilot is being designed and why it’s “harder to give away free money than you might think.”
Spotlight On: Less But Better
This week was Zero Waste Week, a grassroots movement to raise awareness of the environmental impact of waste. While we could point to statistics about where all this waste is going (landfills, the ocean, the soil, up turtles’ noses😢), we instead wanted to look at where this waste is right now: clogging up our homes, apartments and offices. We are surrounded by stuff, and so much of it is completely unnecessary.
A recent article in The Atlantic argues that the ease of online shopping is turning us all into hoarders. This passage in particular stuck out: “Humans get a dopamine hit from buying stuff… Online shopping allows us to get that dopamine hit, and then also experience delayed gratification when the order arrives a few days later, which may make it more physiologically rewarding than shopping in stores.”
How do we override this impulse to keep buying more? We were inspired by the founder of Zero Waste Week, Rachelle Strauss, and her post on the benefits of reducing household waste. We should do it because it’s environmentally-friendly, sure. But we should also do it because it’ll make life simpler. Less clutter and less time doing chores = more money in our bank account and more time to do the things that are important to us. That’s a movement we can get behind.
Social Impact Jobs
1. Airbnb — Open Homes Cause Coordinator (San Francisco, California — contact Danielle Vermeer, firstname.lastname@example.org; mention Reconsidered)
2. ASOS — Fabric Compliance Administrator (London, UK)
3. Chobani — Product Innovation Analyst (New York, New York)
4. DuPont — Sustainability Data Analyst (Wilmington, Delaware)
5. EILEEN FISHER — Charitable Giving Database Assistant (temp) (Irvington, New York)
6. Mata Traders — Marketing Coordinator (Chicago, Illinois)
7. New York Life Insurance Company — Senior Administrative Assistant, Corporate Responsibility (New York, New York)
8. One Acre Fund — Strategy and Research Analyst (Nairobi, Kenya)
9. Redstone Strategy Group — Analyst, Social Sector Consulting (Boulder, Colorado; Redwood City, California; or New York, New York)
10. Revolution Foods — Marketing Associate (Oakland, California)
11. Silicon Valley Community Foundation — Corporate Responsibility Associate (Mountain View, California)
12. Techstars — Customer Success Coordinator (Boulder, Colorado)
13. Too Good to Go — Community Manager, Marketing Intern (internship) (Madrid, Spain)
14. Autodesk — Sustainability Manager (San Francisco, California)
15. BlueDot — Marketing & Communications Manager (Toronto, Canada)
15. BSR — Financial Services and Impact Investing Manager (New York, New York)
17. Cartier — Assistant, Cartier Women's Initiative Awards (Paris, France)
18. eos Products — Public Relations Account Executive, Global (New York, New York)
19. Fresh (LVMH Company) — Senior Manager, Sustainability (Jersey City, New Jersey)
20. Grameen America — Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis (New York, New York)
21. LinkedIn — Senior Data Scientist, Economic Graph Analytics (New York, New York)
22. Macy’s — Manager, Corporate Giving Events & Volunteerism (New York, New York)
23. Pymwymic — Community Manager (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
24. Salterbaxter — Sustainability Project Manager/Researcher (Contact: Kristina Joss, email@example.com; mention Reconsidered) (New York, New York)
25. Toly Products — Corporate Social Responsibility Manager (Malta)
26. Thomson Reuters Foundation — Senior Project Manager, Slavery Programs (London, UK)
27. Universal Music Group — Analyst, Vendor Management & CSR (Woodland Hills, California)
28. Walgreens — Manager, Ethical Sourcing (Chicago Area, Illinois)
29. WAYB — Director, Ecommerce (South Pasadena, California)
30. Amazon Web Services — EMEA Public Relations Manager, Internal Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility (London, UK — contact Danielle Vermeer, firstname.lastname@example.org; mention Reconsidered)
31. Blue Orchard Impact Investing Managers — Senior Investment Officer (Tbilisi, Georgia)
32. Boskalis — CSR Manager (South Holland, Netherlands)
33. CooperVision — Director, Corporate Responsibility (Pleasanton, California)
34. Facebook — Director, Social Good Partnerships (Menlo Park, California)
35. Fair Trade USA — Business Partner Marketing Director (Oakland, California)
36. Karisimbi Business Partners — Manager (Kigali, Rwanda)
37. lululemon — Social Responsibility & Compliance Manager (Vancouver, Canada)
38. PepsiCo — Senior Manager, Global Sustainability Sourcing (Chicago, Illinois; Purchase, New York; or Plano, Texas)
39. Rent the Runway — Director, Environmental Health & Safety (New York Area, New York)
40. S’well — Director, Retail Marketing (New York, New York)
Do you have an opening at your organization? Click here to submit a listing for consideration.