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E19: The For-Profit Sector Isn’t The Enemy

by Sean Boyce

Why you shouldn’t see for-profit companies as the enemy and what to do instead.

What I cover in this episode:
  • Why you shouldn’t consider the for-profit sector the enemy
  • How to think about the situation differently
  • How partnership can lead to inspiration
  • Examples of what you can do with more resources
  • Examples from the Environmental Defense Fund
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Episode Transcript
Hey everyone, Sean here and today what I want to talk to you about is that you shouldn’t consider the for profit sector as the enemy. 

A lot of people that are scaling impact and doing wonderful things in the nonprofit or mission driven world might see what’s going on in the for profit sector as the exact opposite, that kind of epic good versus evil battle and I understand why you might, there’s oftentimes a lot of bad press that comes from for profit organizations, doing largely what they shouldn’t be doing and taking shortcuts that we’ve just a wake of bad decisions and massive impact to the environment or humanity. 

However, having said that, in my opinion, there’s a better way to think about this and combine efforts, which will also help scale impact and oftentimes at an even more significant level. I want to explain a little bit more about what I mean by that, instead of putting yourself in a kind of opposed stance to the for profit sector. What I might recommend or consider instead is to think about different ways that you may be able to partner with them or get involved to help interrupt what may be happening there that you know can happen better with some changes, which will dramatically reduce or significantly improve the overall results. There is a possibility of a win win scenario here. 

I also don’t want you to necessarily always consider the fact that the for profit sector is always looking for ways to take shortcuts, regardless of who it will affect. I would like you to at least consider the fact that there’s certainly the possibility that in the for profit sector, there are some instances where they’re simply moving too fast and making decisions too quickly, to really realize or recognize what all of the effects of that might be in every instance. 

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Now I’m not saying that organizations haven’t deliberately made poor choices, and that hasn’t led to catastrophe. It has time and time again and that’s obviously horrible and that should never be the case, but I don’t want to discourage you from getting involved and helping improve this situation because you are exactly who can make this better and I want to keep you motivated to want to be able to do that. As opposed to trying to ignore it or just kind of go your own way to make impact with the organization and resources that you have. If instead you consider the alternative of looking to potential partnerships or getting involved with them, instead of only fighting them. You might be able to make significantly more impact than you ever thought you could and I’ve got some examples that I can share with you as well also. 

Now, again, you are the perfect person for this project. And when I say project, this is kind of what I mean. There’s a ton of examples out there, but I’ll just focus on one or two in this case. So the EDF are the Environmental Defense Fund, which for decades now under the leadership of Fred Krupp has been focused on looking for ways to protect the environment and reverse any of the damage that’s been done in a multitude of areas and they’ve done some pretty incredible work. In this case, I’m going to focus on two examples where the EDF again led by Fred Krupp they took a different approach to this scenario and instead were willing to partner with for profit organizations and two in particular led to some pretty dramatic results. The one was that they partnered with FedEx, which is kind of the packaging distribution shipping and logistics company. They partnered with them and the ultimate result of that partnership was that they were able to enable them to convert all of their midsize trucks to hybrid instead of gas powered vehicles, which ultimately led to a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions, which is significantly better for the environment, right? We’re talking about unbelievable amount of trucks are being driven essentially constantly, right? So pretty dramatic impact being scaled there. 

In another instance, (the EDF) partnered with the McDonald’s Corporation to help them eliminate essentially 150,000 tons of packaging waste which again, is amazing. Like, that’s incredible. Both of those are pretty dramatic results. And without those partnerships, we wouldn’t have seen those results. So regardless of the motivation, right, your mission, ultimately is highly likely to be aligned with the outcomes related to scaling impact. I imagine that’s why you’re probably consuming this content. But I want you to consider the possibilities of what you might be able to do if you were to instead, get involved. 

So the kind of the reaction that I would be looking for or how I would encourage you to respond to these situations instead of seeing any of these examples that may be out there of people doing the wrong thing. Instead of getting angry and fighting it in a different way. I would say instead of getting angry, get involved and help change it.