One of the persistent memes (or perhaps I should say tropes to be be more in the storytelling idiom) in social entrepreneurship is the phrase "Doing well by doing good."
Needless to say, this is one of the things I have been avidly following, looking for examples where companies are socially responsible without sacrificing their bottom line. These take a variety of forms, but I wanted to call attention to a few I have encountered recently.
Firstly, I met some of the executive team from Discovery Mining (document processing for law firms) at a recent Stanford event. We were chatting about my program, and I started brainstorming with them about how companies can add a social benefit that will strengthen their core products by applying a bit of creativity. (for example, Discovery Mining could use their product for something similar to Benetech's Human Rights Data Analysis Group)
Anyway, I was very interested to hear that they were buying carbon credits to offset travel for all of their sales force. In addition to 'doing the right thing', I'm sure this more than pays for itself; the sales team can feel good about themselves and the company adds value to their brand by being progressive and modern.
At the same time, I noticed two other interesting things:
The San Francisco Chronicle website added a Being Green section which includes how to calculate your carbon footprint, links to ecotourism, and other related articles.
Microsoft's MSN Messenger launched an initiative similar to Working Assets, but for instant messaging. "Every time you start a conversation using i’m, Microsoft shares a portion of the program's advertising revenue with some of the world's most effective organizations dedicated to social causes."