The planet’s biggest challenges will not be solved without business at the table. That means tapping into business’s experts and social innovators. In fact, Institute founder Walter Paepcke, a dynamic industrialist, recognized the potential of engaging business leaders in the quest for a more harmonious society. This is the philosophy driving the Institute’s Business and Society Program—and, more recently, its First Movers Fellowship. Founded in 2009, the First Movers Fellowship identifies and empowers “corporate social intrapreneurs”—leaders inside large companies who are finding new ways to generate business value alongside meaningful social impact.
To create a more equitable and sustainable world, the program believes, we need to leverage business’s resources. This effort begins with leaders at large companies. So the Business and Society Program identifies these “first movers” and provides them with the skills, support, and networks they need to align business success with long-term social and environmental well-being. Since its launch, more than 100 leading companies have participated in the program, including Google, Facebook, Toyota, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo.
Over the next 10 years, the Business and Society Program will bring lessons from the fellowship to a broader audience. Given Millennials’ search for purposeful work and changing consumer and investor expectations, it’s high time to prove that a new model for business is possible. Luckily, First Movers fellows are paving the way.