Today is my last day as a new media intern at Calvert Foundation =[… I’ve been here for 11 months and, as of this point, it has been the formative experience in my professional career.
Calvert Foundation, minus all the jargon, is a nonprofit that manages an investment which they call the Community Investment Note. What’s special about the Community Investment Note is that anyone can INVEST IN (not give to) it, and then Calvert Foundation uses that money to INVEST IN (not give to) social businesses and nonprofits that support underserved communities both domestically and internationally. Investments start as low as $20, and in 17 years Calvert Foundation has always repaid investors.
Now that my shameless plug is out of the way, what I really want to talk about is the culture of Calvert Foundation. CEO, Lisa Hall, says all of the time – we do very important work at Calvert Foundation, but we are not saving babies. There are prenatal nurses out there who are providing services that can be the difference between life and death. That’s not what we do at Calvert Foundation. If we need time off to recharge or take care of other obligations (as long we have cleared it with our supervisor), we can.
This idea has permeated into every level of Calvert Foundation. Employees are not just concerned with their job, or Calvert foundation, they see the whole picture. They celebrate birthdays in the office. They chat about life, sports, and politics. They take a half day on a sunny Friday. They get to know each other as more than just employees.
Seeing the whole picture isn’t just an excuse to goof off or get off work early either. It is also how employees at Calvert Foundation approach their work. It’s very easy to get sucked into your own little world where only your work and your stakeholders matter. Calvert Foundation employees actively fight this tendency. They have cross sector meetings to discuss different sides of an organization-wide issue or opportunity. They venture outside of their job description to get something done. They actively seek opportunities outside of Calvert Foundation, and are encouraged to think about how it affects the organization now and in the future. The leniency of being able to take a break makes employees refreshed when they are needed most. They are able to perform their best when it counts instead of just alright all of the time.
Is it coincidence that an organization concerned with more than financial performance is also concerned with more than employee productivity?
Hopefully, something just clicked. Seeing the big picture is critical to any successful social enterprise, and is present throughout its culture. As a pioneer in the impact investing space, and really social enterprise in general, Calvert Foundation is an early example of the most important reason why I think the future is in social business. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that sees you as a person instead of an input? The internal culture of social business is not something discussed as often as its business models, but this culture is a cornerstone of what differentiates social business from traditional business. Imagine the pain, loss, and failure we as a society can avoid if the status quo becomes seeing the big picture.
Thank you again to Calvert Foundation for supporting and nurturing my skills and passions.
Until next time, see you out there.