Between the global pandemic and Black Lives Matter, 2020 will be remembered as the year many of us finally took the time to examine our values and reassess our priorities. For Jolene Chan, Traction on Demand’s first ever Chief Impact Officer, that's contributing to the turning tide of how businesses operate.
“Traction on Demand has very strong core values that make this company what it is. We were able from the beginning to give back to our communities. But this year we looked at everything going on globally and we’re making a push to bring impact into the forefront of how we do business,” she says.
Making an impact is the future of business
“All companies can do good for the world and they will actually thrive if they do.”Michelle Malpass, VP of Community, Traction on Demand
The idea of impact-making as the future of business was the topic of the keynote presentation Jolene presented alongside Michelle Malpass, Vice President of Community. They spoke during Traction on Demand’s annual TimeToValue Conference, which was streamed online for the first time.
Jolene says the global events of the past year have given us some space to reflect on how we spend our time, and perhaps more importantly, how we want to spend our time in the future. “Job seekers are placing value on the purpose of their work, and on the purpose of the organizations they work for,” she says. “In 2020, employers had to accelerate the digital transformation of their organizations because we needed to ensure our employees had the ability to work from home.” With that factor satisfied, Jolene points to employer confidence that their employees can be productive remotely as the catalyst to re-think the future of work. Flexibility is key in giving people “the power to drive impact in our society and make the world better in their own way.”
Jolene widens the scope in explaining that customers are starting to consider impact measurements when evaluating a partner. This means they are looking to work with partners whose values are most aligned with theirs, as a part of the selection process. Two areas where there has been an increase in questions specific to procurement have been around diversity metrics and sustainability metrics.
Do these three things to make an impact
Using the B Corp standards to guide us, Traction on Demand's (ToD) Impact organization focuses on four core pillars: JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), sustainability, Traction for Good and growing well as we scale the business. With these areas in mind, Joelene offers up three things businesses can do right now to make an impact:
1. Develop a common language within the business
Does everyone know what “allyship” or any other JEDI term means, and are they applying them correctly? Look to set aside the time and enlist the appropriate facilitators to educate your workforce. This will equip them to better interact with people both inside and outside the business, whether they’re investors, clients or beneficiaries of your organization’s social purpose program.
2. Use technology to reduce carbon emissions
Adopt Sustainability Cloud, new to the Salesforce ecosystem in 2019, to collect data on your organization’s carbon emissions. It takes a deep dive into all facets of your business—travel, infrastructure, office equipment usage and more—to highlight your impact on the environment. To take your efforts to the next level, implement ToD’s Carbon Offset Accelerator to track carbon project investments, available carbon credits and associated cost, then allocate those credits to reach net-zero carbon emissions.
3. Engage your people in a new way
One day we were at the office, the next day we were at home with no return date in sight. We had to quickly pivot in order to continue providing the type of service our clients had become accustomed to. Traction Gather, a digital engagement hub, was born out of this necessity. We moved our external events online and also leveraged this platform to host our recent holiday party. Keep it interesting to get the attention of your people.
Doing good is good for business
While the formal launch of the Impact department at ToD is new, the concept of making an impact— especially when doing business—is not. In fact, ToD has been making an impact in communities around the world for a decade. The “Impact journey,” as Michelle calls it in the keynote, highlights the significant stops and learnings along the way:
Building a Foundation: Community Engagement
Traction for Good started nine years ago and is the foundation of Impact as we know it today. It includes Time for Good, which is ToD’s paid volunteer hours program, the annual holiday matching campaign, which recently raised $50,000, and the “give what you’re good at” initiative, which takes on many forms—see below!
Finding a Purpose: “Give What You’re Good At”
During this journey, ToD learned that pro bono Salesforce consulting services didn’t always result in the ownership needed to see a successful project through. So we changed our model to a grants-based program that helps fund grassroots nonprofit projects. Through this program, we’ve distributed over $2.5 million in service grants to 300 projects and that number is set to keep on climbing.
Having Fun: Bandit Tour for Good
Our Bandit Tour for Good is the only time we provide pro bono services, and that’s because we work with nonprofits that have already invested in the Salesforce platform. These organizations already have the framework; they’re looking for ways to take their systems to the next level. In eight years of Bandit Tours, we have provided over 1,400 hours of pro bono work to over 100 organizations. This year was the first time the Bandit Tour went global with virtual stops in Australia and India.
Taking it to the Next Level: B Corp
As Traction for Good looked to widen its scope, it turned to B Corp to help guide the way. B Corp challenged us to look at all areas of our business—including governance, customers and sustainability— to see where we could make improvements. We became certified after completing a rigorous assessment and we’re recertified every three years. We’re in good company; Patagonia, Beautycounter and Tentree are all B Corps.
Doing good is not just a benefit in and of itself—it’s good for business as well. “Three to four years ago, the door to the nonprofit market opened even wider for us because at that point we had already been engaging with nonprofits for several years,” says Michelle.
Impact ideas to get started
Can one ever be too impactful? We don’t think so. So in proper ToD fashion we have a lot coming up, including:
- Following up on the #PayUpForProgress pledge that we recently signed, and putting the systems in place so we can reach gender pay parity
- Working toward the Canadian government’s 50 - 30 Challenge to see gender parity (“50%”) and representation (30%) of other under-represented groups on our board and in senior management
- Creating programs in partnership with universities around diversity and inclusion as a way to develop the workforce in SaaS
- Consulting organizations and helping them develop their own “for good” programs based on our Impact journey
There’s a lot here but there’s no need to be overwhelmed. Even one small action can make a significant impact.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Traction on Demand welcomes Jolene Chan
As Chief Impact Officer at Traction on Demand, Jolene is responsible for helping support the growth of the organization through the lens of sustainability, community, diversity and inclusion. Jolene brings over 20 years of experience in the consulting industry, having helped design, operationalize and create processes in sales, global delivery, PMO organizations and recruitment. As part of scaling organizations, she has helped open regional offices both in the US and Europe. Jolene has worked for consulting organizations such as PwC, IBM and Bluewolf, where she co-founded the Women Innovators Network.