A Changemaker Reimagines the Business of Business
When impact entrepreneur Seth Goddard found himself looking for a new venture and mission at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lifelong learner in him decided to embrace the opportunity to slow down, accept the discomfort of unemployment as a growth opportunity, and take himself back to school. A former LIFE magazine journalist and e-commerce expert, he pursued an understanding of the intersection of storytelling and technology. Seth recently connected with Net Impact from his home in Colorado and explains, “I wanted to find modern business measurements to apply to age-old challenges: How can people serve each other with greater humility? How can we honor the planet as the lifeforce it is? How can these goals become a part of a corporation’s annual report or SEC filing?” He enrolled in a University of Copenhagen course on Sustainable Development Goals, earned badges through Salesforce Trailhead, took a data science course at University of California Berkeley, and studied the works of inspiring business leaders, professors, and Zen masters. “My biggest gamble,” says Seth, “was that I wanted to go fast, so I went alone and knew I might not get far enough, but I also knew that the effort was true to my heart.”
On a chance day in July 2020, Seth hopped on Zoom to join Net Impact for the first event in the Reimagining Capitalism virtual event series. And the rest, as they say, is history! The event was a conversation led by Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson. She had just released her book, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, and spoke with enthusiasm about the urgency to address the problems we face globally. She inspired listeners with her passionate plea to help get the world to a place of balance and equality by asking businesses to step up with purpose and innovation. Later, in her Q&A with PBS News Anchor Paul Solman, she answered questions from the greater Net Impact community, unaware that Seth was in the audience and in the early development stage of an app that would help businesses do just that.
Not long after tuning in to the Reimagining Capitalism conversation, Seth founded Metrics.Earth and launched the company's first Salesforce Partner application, OAKs (Objectives, Alignments and Key Results). OAKs allows companies to align bottom line revenue and risk with the globally-accepted United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The app empowers employees to track their progress against selected SDGs so that sustainability can be measured and easily presented to leadership teams and stakeholders. OAKs then automates the critical outreach and communication process required for organizations to follow their own money and learn if their business ecosystem is making a mess or helping to reduce stress on both people and the planet.
“I chose to use the Salesforce platform because it already captures all relevant business data, and their Net Zero Cloud elegantly handles carbon accounting and renewable energy usage,” says Seth. “Those are critical first steps. I took it further with a custom Alignment data object to bring a bit of soul and our whole selves into the business of business. Databases already have plenty of artificial intelligence for our brains to use for problem solving; I wanted metrics based on emotional intelligence to help our hearts follow the wise, and unwise, actions of a sustainable corporate citizen."
The OAKs app places the work of a company's sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) team right into the same platform used by sales, marketing, account management, and finance. "At the end of the day, the feel-good nature of sustainability and ESG needs to be reported in the same way as revenues and expenses – with hard-nosed numbers that can be reviewed by boards, regulators, and activists. Sustainability rests in the proof of results not the marketing of commitments."
Seth credits Rebecca Henderson’s insightful presentation, and the collective energy of the Net Impact audience that day, for “lighting the fire” under him to pursue his app concept. “Professor Henderson made it clear to me that Harvard and other business schools are graduating leaders who want to make a positive impact with their careers. I wanted to make sure they had the right tool for the job.”
If necessity is the mother of invention, then Seth’s business vision is on the right track to change the world for good. His call for corporations to start measuring their sustainability and ESG efforts with the same platform they deploy for managing sales, vendors and customer engagement now comes with the support of 10,000+ global consultants at Slalom. “There was no way I could do this alone,” he says. “When Slalom approached me with a wonderful offer to bring the Metrics.Earth mindset to enterprise-scale clients and help lead their own internal sustainability and impact journey, I knew this was the way to go further. I love the human-centered design and local consulting approach that Slalom practices because in the race for social and planetary sustainability, it will be just that type of approach that will win the day.”
Seth speculates that the long-term viability of any business is at stake without the tools in place to identify and make progress on goals beyond just the financial bottom line. As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what’s the use of seeing?” Seth’s story reminds us that even though the pandemic took so much away, our world and its changemakers are more connected than ever and our abilities to see and act improve with each passing moment.
Metrics.Earth was founded during the Covid-19 pandemic by Seth Goddard, a technology entrepreneur for social & environmental justice. The purpose of the company is to build sustainability into the business of business.
Learn More with Net Impact
The Reimagining Capitalism series was so well received that we launched a second virtual series, The Regenerative Economy, where we’re engaging our global partners and members to harness the power of business as a force for good, and to hasten a changing narrative in the direction of regenerative principles in place of the acceptance of degenerative ones. Join us on Tuesday, January 25, for the fourth event in our Regenerative Economy series to hear from some of the world's leading companies on how they advance circularity and regeneration. As always, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with speakers and attendees, so bring your ideas and questions!