What IS social impact? And more importantly, how do we integrate social impact into our professional careers?
This question is at the crux of “The Impact Agenda” — a podcast started by two Princeton students who are trying to “dispel myths that you can’t create a profitable career that focuses on and incorporates social impact.” Together, they chat with creators, leaders, and trailblazers to find inspiration on what an impact driven career looks like.
The origins of “The Impact Agenda” began when Evelyn Howe '25 and Elise Kratzer '24 noticed the gap in resources between the idea of ‘social impact’ and the execution of these values in professional careers. Hoping to bridge this gap, the two created “The Impact Agenda'” in early 2022 with the hopes of trying to “redefine and expand the boundaries of ‘social impact’ careers beyond the traditional definitions.”
In an interview with the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC), Elise emphasized the importance of making sure that social impact looks more than just “meeting environmental social governance (ESG) principles” in a professional setting.
“To actually be making a social impact investment, the core project or service of the business has to be something that is benefiting society in terms of the environment or some bigger, global challenge,” she explained.
We talked about what this would look like and if Elise and Evelyn picked up any notable tips from the people they interviewed.
One memorable conversation was with Ross Overline — CEO and Founder of Scholars of Finance.
In this podcast, Evelyn and Elise discussed the importance of pushing against the idea of “selling out,” making notable points about how to leverage high-income jobs to create social impact.
“Selling out is the traditional viewpoint at a lot of universities and young people right now,” Evelyn explains. “Our conversation with Ross focused on pushing against the idea of “selling out,” as it puts down people who are interested in going to money-oriented careers.”
When asked about the importance of these money-oriented careers and how they align with social-impact jobs, Elise emphasized that CEOs like Ross recognize how “money and finance control so much of our world.”
Thus, rather than utilize the term “selling out” to describe money-oriented careers, Elise emphasizes the importance of recognizing how imperative it is to encourage and uplift “impact-oriented individuals who go into finance as they can start utilizing the money for good and making change in those industries.”
"All industries won't need to have a social impact job label because hopefully every job will incorporate some sort of social impact mission. Evey brought up a memorable conversation with Meg Garlinghouse, Vice President of Social Impact at LinkedIn. Together, Elise and Evelyn discussed Meg's dream of “social-impact roles ceasing to exist one-day.”
“Meg’s dream is that one day, these social-impact specific roles will cease to exist and everyone will be embodying that spirit,” she says. “It is a dream we’ve embodied; we don’t know what is going to happen or what it will look like but it would definitely be a step up from what organizations and companies look like today.”
As it stands, Elise emphasizes that social impact and the mission of “The Impact Agenda” is still very new.
“Many of the guests that we’re speaking with agree that we do not know what social impact looks like today, what it should mean, or how to even get there,” she explains. “But through these initial conversations we hope we can figure things out, especially when it's at the core of business, start ups, and everything else.”
“The Impact Agenda,” to Evelyn and Elise, is a bold effort to “define a movement” that seeks to empower people to integrate social impact into their careers, professions and lives.
Season 3 of “The Impact Agenda,” which is released this Fall, will host new guests that seek to explore ways to bridge this gap.
For anyone with suggestions on speakers who embody “The Impact Agenda’s” mission and values, please contact Elise Kratzer and Evelyn Howe.