My favorite month of the year is January.  January allows me an opportunity to set new goals for the year and to continue working toward the goals I have set in prior years. After stepping down as the President and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in 2021, I knew my next venture had to be focused on making a bigger impact for marginalized communities.  I spent the first three months of my new endeavor getting my “house” in order. My goal was to create a purpose-driven consultancy practice that helped organizations define and activate their social impact strategy as the expectation for organizations to have a bigger impact on marginalized communities has grown. As we start fresh in the new year, I want to share the top 5 ways you can start to have in impact on underrepresented and underserved communities: 

  1. Revisit your organizations goals and mission. It’s important your goals and mission speak of the impact you want to have in the communities you serve. These defining statements tell employees and consumers what you value. And if it’s unclear how equity, inclusion, and service to the community, or even the consumer, are important to your organization’s function, you may want to reevaluate your statements.
  1. Survey your employees. Employees want to work for organizations that evaluate the workplace environment they have created and constantly strive to improve it. Employees also care about how a company impacts its surrounding community. Surveying your employees allows organizations to measure how their employees feel they are succeeding in creating a safe and productive work environment and how the organization is impacting the community around them. 
  1. Identify your partners. Once you have identified the specific impact you want to have, research to see what community’s partners can help you reach and serve those communities. Community organizations likely have more knowledge than you do about what the community needs are, so use them as a resource. Your resources can be more useful and impactful when you partner with organizations who have an understanding of the community. 
  1. Decide what impact you want to have. There are so many social issues we can address to create equity. Align the impact you want to have with your values and goals.  If your goal is to create a pipeline of diverse talent entering and progressing in your company, you may focus your efforts on training and education to maintain a diverse workforce.  
  1. Put your money where your mouth is. Let’s make 2022 the year we move away from words and move toward action. Billions of dollars were pledged to racial justice causes in 2020, and, unfortunately, only a small percentage of those pledged dollars have been distributed in the communities that were promised support. 

Whether you are just getting started or you are revisiting your current social impact strategy, stakeholders expect organizations to give back to marginalized communities. Choosing the impact that best resonates with your business and its mission is the best way to pass on good fortune and help those (or those causes) that need it most.