The Social Ripple Effect: The Reach of Business Decisions in the Time of COVID-19

Organizations will be defined by the decisions they make during the pandemic. Now, companies with a social purpose — or those which aspire to have one — have a tool that can inform their day-to-day decisions in ways that build and sustain a better society.

A ripple effect is a situation in which, like ripples expanding across the water
when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be
followed outwards. The global COVID-19
has had the
effect of dropping a very large object into the world’s ‘water,’ causing social
purpose-driven organizations to step up to the challenge of pivoting their

to play their role.

More than ever, leaders have been called upon to make immediate and profound
decisions with far-reaching consequences — and with the potential to accelerate
and ripple their social impact into their communities and beyond.

We at the Social Purpose Institute
have been tracking the nature of purpose-driven decisions during this turbulent
period. Do you see what we see? Businesses with a social purpose are using it as
a lens for decision-making. Here are a few CEOs on purpose during COVID:

“When the s— hits the fan — whether it is COVID or social injustice — we
look to our purpose to figure out what to do. Our purpose is to create
world-changing technologies that enrich the lives of every person on earth.
That simple line helps us define fairly quickly what to do.”

Bob Swan,
CEO, Intel

“We are doubling down on our Purpose to foster a world where nothing is
waste — it is even more relevant now than ever before.”

Allen Langdon,
CEO, Return-It

“Our purpose, to transform communities by connecting people with places,
guides us in how best to respond to the challenges of our time, including
the pandemic and more recently the reminder of the dire impact of systemic
racism in society. Our purpose helps us know where to focus and what to

Patrick Nangle,
CEO, Modo Co-operative

When I was commissioned by Corporate Knights to write an article on social
purpose in the time of
I found that purpose-driven companies were front-line champions of a
humanitarian society. Research for the article generated guidelines for
developing the COVID social
showing even more profoundly the changes companies embrace as they explore their
own humanity.

So when Kelly
, program
officer of the McConnell Family Foundation, approached me to develop a
COVID-19 social impact decision-making

for purpose-driven organizations, I leapt at the opportunity.

Now, companies with a social purpose — or those which aspire to have one — have
a tool they can use to inform their day-to-day decisions in ways that build and
sustain a better society, much like the CEOs are doing at the companies
mentioned above.

The tool starts by challenging companies to determine their ambition levels: Do
they seek to improve or, more impactfully, transform societal conditions?
Next, it provokes companies to think strategically about their direction, with
questions such as: What will future generations expect from us? What greater
role can we play in the world? Then, it introduces different narratives such as
society transformation, climate emergency, technology purpose and others.
Finally, it lays out ways a company can use these catalytic questions as a tool
for emergency planning, project acceleration, conversation starters, strategic
planning and more.

If you and your organization want to elevate your decisions during this historic
period, this is a tool to use now.

We are all hearing that companies and organizations will be defined by the
decisions they make during COVID-19. So, take charge of your brand and your
narrative. Use this
expand your horizons, and create those purpose-driven ripples to realize a
better world.