Making a Social Impact (Part 1)

(Part 1 of 2)

There are many facets to making a social impact with your company.  My coaching focus is on the CEO and helping them to take positive steps forward with their team and their customers; to build teamwork and respect for each other so that ultimately – we achieve our mission.

I have received many questions from CEO leaders over the past 60 days, like:

How should we respond as a company to the employees asking about our social impact?’

‘What steps should we take as a company to make positive social impact?’

I wanted to start by sharing a story.

This note is from one of my associates a few years after a special company-wide event:

“At a team meeting years ago, Gary spoke about his feeling for the people in the room and the great potential of the company.  Knowing that our leader had the same passion for the company as I do – by seeing the emotion in his eyes and hearing it in his voice – gave me reassurance that we had a bright future.”

It is this kind of moment that proves to me that if you talk from your heart and have passion, your associates will respond to you as a leader.  By putting your heart out there and taking a risk, your associates will have your back and fight for you!

Many of your employees are passionate about the topics surrounding social impact – they want to see you step forward and lead.  They at least want you to intently listen to them; to some that will not be enough.

Your customers are also watching you – to see what you commit to as a company.  Some customers may not do business with you if you do not proactively and publicly act. 

I believe you should view this moment as an opportunity. You can be proactive and act on some of your ideas within the next several weeks.  It will take time and commitment, but if done successfully, I believe it can help push your business forward and accelerate success!  And your people will love it.

We have developed an easy 3-step process that you can follow. We will cover the first 2 steps in this article:





Your abilities as a leader of an organization to inspire your team, to attract great people and partners, and to build a culture that gets things done – will ultimately determine your legacy as a leader and your company’s success in the market.  It all starts with building strong relationships. 

I believe relationship-building begins with listening and respect.  It’s about how we treat each other.  It’s about respecting people no matter the color of their skin, their personal views, or other characteristics that make them different.  Many of you reading this article already do a fantastic job at this – but even you should challenge yourself.  What is the next step? Is every person on our leadership team listening to associates? Is our leadership team a trusted and valued resource for our associates? If not, this is your opportunity to change that.


In regard to your specific response to making a social impact, can we look at other companies that we respect and see how they are handling internal communications?  There are a lot of examples of CEOs that have stepped forward to create space for conversation and development.  Who do you emulate?  Which program fits for you?  Here are a two examples of internal company communications:


The Kellogg Company encouraged employees “create an open dialogue where employees can speak freely, and express frustrations or concerns,” and reaffirmed its commitment to “a diverse and inclusive environment, particularly for African American/black and minority employees.”


Nestle encouraged its employees to “discuss with each other the current events” according to a June message sent to its staff (and posted on LinkedIn). “Many members of our Nestle family are hurting right now,” it wrote. “Consider reaching out to your colleagues to check in on them and offer your support. You can also help by joining an Employee Resource Group or by participating in one of their programs. And if you need to talk with someone, talk with your manager or make use of your Employees Assistance Program or other resources available.” It added: “The ‘good life’ part of our corporate motto doesn’t mean a good life for some people. It means that we strive to work every day to help build a good life, a better life, for all people in the communities where we live and work around the world.”


“We build a relationship first, gain respect, and are respectful.

Then we can be effective and create change that will last.”

Gary Ross




1. Think about discussing these questions with your team at a company meeting you can call next week:

  • How do we advance the communities where our company interacts while also enhancing our company culture?
  • How do we make specific and social impact – related to our market and community – while building teamwork in the process? 

2. Is there opportunity for you to enhance and re-communicate your company values?  Do you have a list of your company core values?  If you do, why not take a step to review and potentially add your own version of one of the following – to your list of values:

– Listen, Respect, and Inclusion are valued. 

– We build a supportive environment for all associates.

– We strive to work every day to help build a good life, a better life, for all people in the communities where we live and work.

– We create an open dialogue where associates can speak freely.

3. Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counselling service offered by employers to their employees to support their well-being in the workplace and in their personal lives. Depending on the employer’s arrangement, EAP may also extend to immediate family members.  For many of you over $2M in revenue, you probably already have an EAP program.  This is a good time to re-communicate your EAP program benefits.  For those of you who do not have an EAP program yet, they are very low cost and can provide life-saving benefits to your associates.  Please drop me a note if I can help you uncover some options for you – as I have recently researched this topic for my current coaching customers.

“The heart of the question is whether we are going to
treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”

President John F. Kennedy, 1963


The CEO sits at the epicenter of sometimes conflicting priorities – the board’s relentless pursuit of increased financial performance in the short run, associates who could be demanding more competitive pay and benefits, and a customer base who wants the company to continuously improve its innovation and overall performance – and do it today! 

Building value and delivering results is not going to happen without a top-notch staff that is motivated to succeed, and who are respected by leading Customers.   This starts with your people and the mission they are pursuing. The question we are asking today is: Can our mission be widened to incorporate a bigger social commitment and responsibility?


As background, you might look at the U.S. Business Roundtable.  Business Roundtable announced in August of last year, a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation – signed by 181 CEOs who committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.  The revised purpose of a corporation aims to promote “an economy that serves all Americans”.  Check out the link – this may give you some ideas!

McDonald’s President Joe Erlinger posted a public letter to McDonald’s employees on LinkedIn saying they have “tended to stay silent on issues that don’t directly involve our business” but that they will provide “opportunities to discuss these issues and our commitment to diversity and inclusion” and encouraged employees to write in with thoughts and ideas about how the company can reinforce its commitment to its communities.

GM CEO Mary Barra posted a letter on the company’s internal intranet, and then distributed it to thousands of GM dealers and suppliers. The headline of the letter read: There is a Big Difference Between Seeing What’s Wrong and Doing What’s Right.


1. Do you have a defined company mission?  If not, take the opportunity now to build and finalize one with your team.

2. If you have established a mission, how about incorporating social impact into your mission?

Example: Our mission is to (list your current mission).  This mission is core to the fight against (e.g. racism, injustice, inequity, etc.). The more we represent the world around us, the better we are at (restate your current mission). 

There are a lot of companies taking similar steps – you have to pick what is right for your company – be authentic to it. Please do not just go through the motions to publish a statement that your culture does not stand behind.  Once you and your team are ready, publish your revised mission internally and externally. This shows action and commitment!

3. Add social responsibility to your website.  Can we add a page that talks about our commitment to making a social impact in our market and our community?  We can even be creative in enlisting suppliers, customers, and local communities to participate in this commitment.

4. Ask for a copy of Gary’s brand new Social Impact one-pager outlining the agenda for your next team meeting to help guide you on your next step! 


“If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk.

If you can’t walk then crawl. 

But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



The bottom line is this:  Your focus is to lead your team to accomplish your mission. And you have the opportunity to impact people’s lives when your company succeeds. If you are courageous enough to take steps now to listen and respect your team’s perspectives – and act on their ideas in a thoughtful manner – you can get this going on a new and faster track, accelerate your business, and take it all the way to the top!

Ready to explore your potential?

  1. 1-on-1 Coaching: Gary has implemented the ideas above successfully with his own teams, and he is actively refining them today with his CEO coaching customers. Can we help you implement positive results in your company? Contact Gary directly:
  2. Learn at your own pace: Join The Growth Cube Academy – a training school for small business CEOs that includes 20-minute video workshops conducted by Gary that you can listen to at your leisure, and focus in on specific topics.
  3. Think – Order Gary’s book, The Growth Cube, or join Gary’s newsletter and stay up-to-date with new successful models and tools!
  4. Learn more about how Gary is applying these principles real-time in his startup company. Go to and sign up to see a demo or invest in Gary’s AI and imaging analytics software products that help improve patient wound healing.