Thursday, July 1, 2010

Social Enterprise - What Is It?

There is a fascinating discussion happening on about the definition of a Social Enterprise. The discussion was started with an article posted by Biznik contributor Jesse Upp, M.S., Communication Strategist for Change Agents, Edmonds, WA. She sets out 3 criteria she sees as defining a “Social Enterprise”: 1 – The final measure of success is impact on a community. 2 – Creative action is taken as a solution for the greater good. 3 – Pragmatic business practices are applied to a social challenge.

The discussion that follows examines the motive of for-profit social enterprises whose stated mission and impact on community could be hiding a more basic profit or political motive and whether that’s ok, as long as there is a positive outcome for community. Certainly for the businesses that have embraced and include people with disabilities in their workforce, there may be a bit of altruistic motivation behind their actions. But mostly they employ people who can do the work and who can contribute to the bottom line. Just because a person has been identified as a person with a disability does not mean they are there to skate through without being held accountable. People with disabilities are doing real work, and they are adding value to their employers.

Listen to a few testimonials from businesses we work with and you’ll understand what we mean - like Mike Dunn, President of Dunn Lumber whose company employs people with disabilities in eight out of their twelve stores. Or Sean Schwendler, Facilities Manager for the Washington Square Condominiums in Bellevue who has found people with disabilities an invaluable addition to his staff. Ultimately, including people with disabilities in the workforce will impact the community by creating opportunity where each of us, no matter our life circumstances, feels valued and included.

posted by AtWork! at


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home