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Corporate Impact

The big picture

As Peter Parker’s uncle once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And who has more power than corporations? The sheer scope and scale of corporations make their existence inseparable from the well-being of the environment and society at large.

  • Of the world’s 100 largest entities by annual revenue, only 29 are countries – the rest are corporations.1
  • Even a Patagonia jacket made of 60% recycled material requires 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs of 45 people. Its journey from its origin to the warehouse generates nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide and leaves behind two-thirds its weight in waste.2

Corporate impact refers not only to what a company’s activities do to the bottom line, but to people and the planet, too. Also known as corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or sustainability, this field goes beyond government compliance and philanthropy. It’s about integrating social and environmental considerations into all aspects of business operations, as well as into relationships with stakeholders such as employees, suppliers, consumers, and local communities.

    The lowdown

    What can you expect if you decide to make a corporate impact?

    Think outside the box

    The reality is that there are a limited number of corporate jobs with “sustainability” or “citizenship” in the job title. The good news is there are opportunities to make an impact from all roles within a company, not just from the vantage point of a dedicated department. Be open to making change from a more functional role.

    It’s all about the Benjamins, baby

    In the corporate world, business decisions almost always come down to dollars and cents. Knowing how to make a clear business case for the kind of social and environmental impact you want to have is key to getting things accomplished.

    Balance idealism with pragmatism

    Moving the infrastructure and practices of a large company in a different direction doesn’t happen overnight. Remember that every little step forward helps, so rather than get discouraged and focus on the things the company isn’t doing, focus on the small things you can help them accomplish that all add up.


      Next Still interested? Meet the Players...
      Choosing Who You Work For

      Many companies like Herman Miller are approaching corporate responsibility and sustainability through an employee development lens. That's good for individuals wanting to make an impact through business.

      How Did They Do It?

      Learn how these folks are making a difference in their field, and what it took to build their career in corporate impact:

      Steve Brunn
      Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy | Target

      Laura Asiala
      Director, Corporate Citizenship | Dow Corning Corporation

      Not Your Thing?

      If corporate impact doesn't ring your bell, take a look at these other fields instead:

      Environmental Sustainability & Natural Resources
      Community Development
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