Increasingly, even though I blog about "tech" and "the social good" in Chicago, I'm surprised at how becoming an agent of the social good and leading a mission-driven life is becoming the "in" thing...both in terms of personal as well as business goals.
A new state task force (FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a volunteer on their Outreach Committee) is focusing on highlighting social ventures and entrepreneurs who focus on making social benefit their bottom line. More frequently articles such as this one appear which focus on how one can work for socially-minded causes and "keep their day job". (A special thanks to this Twitter user for forwarding this article). It seems that many are shifting their thinking of moving beyond the obvious commercial aspects.
And yet, I have to admit - there's a bit of skepticism about this, especially when Salary.com announces college fields with little return on investment....and many of those fields (like psychology and education) are specifically focused on the social good. It seems perfectly fitting for private business to adopt social causes, but individuals dedicating their lives and careers to these fields? It seems like a futile endeavour, and for those with degrees in fields with little ROI (like myself), it seems like our efforts may have been misplaced.
But something to consider - in Chicago, given our size, diversity, and plethora of resources, we need to see social benefit and working towards a mission as less of an add-on....and more of a lifestyle. Many will debate whether private businesses are more effective than non-profits, or whether small community groups can be more
effective than large organizations, but ultimately, being more community and collaboration-minded is less about competition and more about cooperation. That taking on missions and driving social benefit is, in and of itself, a noble cause, and that it does not matter who is making the effort, but that an effort is being made.
Today's blog post is less about making a grand statement and more about stimulating thought and conversation. Do we really want social change, or do some take on the lingo without adopting the mission? Are non-profits the most effective agent of social change? Are private businesses an effective agent of driving mission-based
work? Or are we wringing our hands over nothing, and need to start working with each other regardless of what we do?
I would like to hear what you think (even if it's "what did you just say?") - please feel free to leave your reactions below. In addition, you are more than welcome to reach out to me privately via Linked In (please mention Chicago Now in your note) or my web site's contact page. And as always, thanks for reading - and sharing.