I was a high school jock from northern British Columbia who came to WE Charity armed with a business degree and a hope that I could make a difference in the world—this was long before ME to WE was launched. On my first day in 2003, I wore a suit. At that time in WE Charity, this was unheard of. I’m still living down that fashion statement.
I’m now Chief Operations Director for ME to WE, a leading-edge social enterprise that launched in 2008 to use business strategies to help create positive social change and empower consumers to use their purchases to transform the world.
I am primarily in charge of revenue, risk management, customer service and technology for our socially conscious products and services. This includes ME to WE Artisans, ME to WE Trips and Track Your Impact. I also have the opportunity to work with senior advisors and stakeholders; our Board of Directors; advisors to the Board; as well as the respective Executive Directors of WE Charity and WE Day, who are my counterparts in our family of organizations that, together, embody our WE philosophy.
My passion is spreadsheets, numbers, policies, operations, safety and customer service. I love process, strategy and governance. I find the boring very exciting!
I also work closely with Roxanne Joyal, ME to WE’s CEO, who is responsible for the creative vision for branding, the look and feel of our products and customer experience.
I spent all of my school years playing competitive sports. I had offers to play basketball in university, but I had too many injuries. I chose to do a business degree at University of Ottawa. In class, we’d make bets on who would make a million dollars first. I wanted that for myself.
Then 9/11 happened. I went to school the day after the attacks took place in New York and Washington, and I wanted to discuss what happened in class. But the university had decided no one was to have open discussion because it was too controversial. Not one prof brought up the event. I was floored. Universities are the one place where we freely debate ideas and issues.
I had a 45-minute discussion with one of my profs about my concerns, and he ended up hiring me as his teaching assistant. I never imagined excelling in the academic world, but by graduation, I had 15 teaching assistants and 16 markers working for me. I was most proud of bringing social and global issues into business class, making it part of the discussion.
After I graduated, I decided to focus one year of my life to a charity. A friend told me about WE Charity. I spent a weekend in 2003 exploring all aspects of it—attending a speech by WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger, attending a fundraiser, meeting the team. This led to a job offer. I never left, although my role has evolved. And I’ve loved working in a sector that is bettering the world. That’s why I haven’t been able to leave.
Well, I didn’t have my own computer. I’d get up to go to the bathroom and volunteers would grab it to use. So I password protected it. It’s still floating around someplace with my name on it. I also lived in the top floor of our first office, to save on rent money. We had a real can-do mentality, where anything was possible. We still do.
At the start, I did everything from grant writing, working with our Board of Directors, to launching our books division. I drove the marketing of Craig and Marc’s book, ME to WE: Finding Meaning in a Material World, which became a New York Times bestseller.
I also launched the Canadian Living/ME to WE Awards to recognize outstanding achievements by Canada’s volunteers. So when Craig and Marc decided to launch a social enterprise, I jumped at the chance to be involved from the ground up.
My wife, Louise, and I have two small children, Sierra and Paxton. He’s the toughest negotiator I’ve ever worked with, especially when demanding more than three books at bedtime.
I start most weekdays at 5.30 a.m., with an early morning workout (yes, I do CrossFit), then I take Paxton to daycare and either ride my bike or walk to work. I’m addicted to podcasts and love Mortified, Radiolab or This American Life. It’s my decompression time.
Then the craziness starts, going through emails and planning my 10-hour days of meetings. I work closely with ME to WE’s program manager, Elizabeth Cluff-Downer, who has a Masters in International Business, to assess priorities and tackle projects.
In a nutshell, ME to WE was created to use business strategies to help create positive social change.
For those who are new to our work, WE Charity and ME to WE share some similarities in message because both organizations are inspired by the same philosophy of how to create social impact, but each organization has very distinct paths and operate as completely district entities in their goals of creating that world change.
It often takes a little more than a traditional “elevator pitch” to understand the distinction. Simply put, WE Charity is a non-profit charity, and ME to WE is a for-profit social enterprise that supports the work of WE Charity.
When Craig and Marc founded WE Charity in 1995, they took a traditional approach to their fledgling charity. They asked the public and supporters for donations. It involved coin drives, small donations, lemonade stands, rocking chair-a-thons—anything teens and preteens could dream up.
As the organization grew, there were the expected ups and downs, depending on cash flow. Some months, they could barely afford to keep the lights on, never mind pay the small handful of staff salaries (including mine). And when the charity really started to grow in scope and scale, it was even further exposed to some of the challenges.
As my friends at WE Charity would explain, they operate a five pillar development model called WE Villages that provide health, education, clean water, food security and opportunity programs. These programs require five years to be fully implemented in a community overseas. That is a significant time commitment, and it requires financial security for the charity. A turning moment came in the early 2000s, when WE Charity was struggling to fund its work in Sierra Leone.
True innovation comes from necessity. So in the face of dwindling donations and cutbacks, we had to come up with a new approach to find sustainable funding.
(You can read more about the founding of ME to WE here.)
Craig and Marc co-founded WE Charity, WE Day and ME to WE. They work in a volunteer capacity for WE Charity and do not receive any remuneration from WE Charity. Instead, they are employed by ME to WE. Like all team members, their salaries are in line with the Imagine Canada recommendations for charities and social enterprises.
With regards to their role at ME to We, Craig and Marc are thought-leaders, social entrepreneurs and are often called on to speak about social enterprises.
They are strong role models within our organization and beyond. Craig and Marc were recognized as Canada’s Most Admired CEOs for the Broader Social Sector in 2015 by Waterstone Human Capital.
WE Charity was plagued with so many questions: How can FTC be more economically self-sufficient? How can the organization achieve greater financial certainty? How can WE Charity fund the administrative aspects necessary for a fast-growing entity, such as technology, measurement, staffing —when most funders do not want to allocate their donations towards these “less sexy” aspects? How can we do things that have positive social impact but are not necessarily “charitable” under government regulations? What products and services do people, especially young people, need and want?
We were really fortunate to have the mentorship and backing of eBay founding president, Jeff Skoll, who helped us look towards the power of social enterprise. He believes that the social impact sector needs innovation and scale and that social entrepreneurship will be the driving engine. He also helped us focus on service and products that people want: clothing, travel experiences, leadership training, jewellery and accessories even in the midst of the recession.
What if we could provide these goods and services with a guarantee that they were sustainable, environmentally friendly, and achieve a stable revenue stream for WE Charity? That was our long-term goal.
We began to launch ME to WE, first with international travel to bring volunteers to learn more about WE Charity developing communities. We followed by establishing ME to WE Artisans to help create an opportunity stream to support Kenyan mamas, and ensure that they have the means to support their families.
We support WE Charity in three ways. Firstly, ME to WE provides stable revenue. Secondly, it funds the hardest-to-fund aspects of WE Charity, including administration, technological upgrades and program measurement—all required for a fast-growing organization. Thirdly, ME to WE does what a charity cannot do to support its mission, which includes helping grow the brand through retail channels, and establish luxury hosting facilities to welcome prospective donors to its international development projects.
How are ME to WE and WE Charity different?
We share the same goals but just as players on the same team have different skills, roles, positions and rules, so too WE Charity and ME to WE. If a soccer player touched the ball with his hand, the opposing team is given a penalty, but the goalie is allowed to handle the ball as he/she chooses.
This is a good analogy to better explain the relationship between WE Charity and ME to WE. They are on the same team and work hard to win the game, but they have different roles and follow specific rules. WE Charity is a registered charity, and so is able to issue registered charitable tax-receipts, operate things such as international development projects, leadership programing for at-risk youth, and educational campaigns in 10,000 schools.
(You can read more about the founding of WE Charity here.)
ME to WE is a social enterprise, which is a registered, for-profit entity. Canada, unfortunately, still does not have an official “social enterprise” designation, so ME to WE is registered as a for-profit business. But, in practice and reality, it is much different than that. With the help of Torys law firm, we created our own bi-laws and legally binding contract to ensure that ME to WE functions with the goal of supporting the work of WE Charity—and helps change the world at the same time.
Because of the uniqueness of the entities, the legal structure of WE Charity and ME to WE, and their relationship, was reviewed and given formal approval by the Public Guardian Trustee of Ontario, as well as the Ontario Superior Court. (You can read more about how ME to WE is transparent and accountable here.)
The core commitment of ME to WE is that half of the net profits are invested in WE Charity, and the other half is reinvested to grow the social enterprise so it can do more good.
ME to WE was established to support the work of WE Charity, in particular the hard-to-fund aspects of the charity, including administration costs, technology advancement and program measurement. ME to WE generates this income primarily by selling socially responsible and ethically made products and meaningful volunteer travel experiences.
For example, many of our ME to WE Artisan products are created by women overseas who take part in WE Charity’s opportunity programming. ME to WE Artisans provides employment, with very good income, for communities; and the income allows the community members to sustain WE Charity’s development programs, allowing the charity to decrease its costs, and achieve true sustainability for its programs.
Our ME to WE Trips overseas allow young people and their families to visit WE Charity communities and see the power of their donations first hand. ME To WE invested in this infrastructure to bring prospective supporters and donors to see WE Charity’s development work. Volunteer travel often isn’t suitable for young families or older people. We wanted to change that and create a multi-generational travel experience for people. When our trip participants see what WE Charity has accomplished in its developing communities, they fall in love and want to become donors. I’m so proud of this, because it brings the fullest degree of accountability and transparency to the world of international development. People can actually see where their donations have gone, and make new friends along the way. This is such a powerful feeling.
I’m a passionate believer that we can educate young people and their families on how to make a difference with their consumer choices. Whether they realize it or not, people vote every single day, even those who are under the age of 18. They vote with their wallets.
We want to ensure those “votes” are educated and thoughtful.
We all buy stuff. But if we show people that their purchases can be transformational, that’s really eye-opening and can set up a lifetime of enlightened consumer choices. For example, kids can purchase our backpacks, which are made of recycled water bottles; youth and women buy our rafikis (beaded chains) made by Kenyan mamas. That purchase provides a mama with income to send her children to school, buy a malaria net or a ventilation system to keep smoke out of her home.
Educating them about the impact of their purchases can make young people and their families keen to buy fair trade, ask how products are made, or what labour practices are followed in production.
First, because of globalization, we are so rarely connected to how things are produced that we lose touch with the humanity behind a transaction.
Many kids think that apples or meat originate from grocery stores. Many have not visited a farm, so when we take young people on ME to WE Trips to farms in rural Kenya, they marvel how a banana tree looks or pineapples grow out of the ground. Similarly, we connect kids to the supply chain through Track Your Impact for the products that we make. Track Your Impact attaches an online code to our products so consumers can see that behind their purchase is a woman, with a name and a story, who made the rafiki that they have purchased. A light bulb goes off.
That’s a powerful transformation. I like changing the purchase from just fulfilling consumer needs to empowering someone on the other side of the world. We think it’s important to connect people to the supply chain.
Finally, charity has very limited sources of money. We all give, but it is a small percentage of our overall income. If we can re-direct and re-educate people about their consumer choices, this could be the greatest force for social change ever created. It does not take that many people to create a consumer trend. We believe companies will follow if consumers lead.
Within the past decade, and even more recently, there has been an ever growing number of organizations and initiatives that initially relied on government and traditional forms of charity, but are now doing more than any charity or government hand-out could do. These emerging social enterprises are empowering people and giving them dignity.
It’s such an exciting time. Look to the work of Grameen Bank, a highly-profitable bank for the poor whose founder, Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.
Ashoka, a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, invests in social entrepreneurs, including those who have started social enterprises.
Our mentor, Jeff Skoll, has done incredible work to support social entrepreneurs and social enterprises, and endowed the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. More exciting trends are emerging, such as the rise of Social Impact Bonds.
And it’s possible to get certification recognizing your social impact, including that of B Corp.
B Corps uses business skills and concepts to achieve the goals of the non-profit sector in order to create social change. I truly believe this is the future of tackling the world’s problems. Business can be more of a force for positive social change than people may realize and I am so excited to be part of this emerging field.
ME to WE Trips enables thousands of young people and hundreds of corporate volunteers to go and experience WE Charity projects firsthand in the developing world. As a result, they become more engaged with the communities WE Charity supports, and therefore more engaged in WE Charity’s mission and programs, and more engaged in the world. We firmly believe in the transformative power of these trips.
Running these trips is challenging, especially considering major currency fluctuations, as well as inflationary pressures in many of the countries where we operate.
In the cost of a youth trip, we factor in plane tickets, all domestic transportation, meals, water, accommodations, trained facilitators, in-country experts, general insurance, trained medical support, 24-hour emergency support, fundraising coaching and materials, overhead, pre- and post-trip engagement, overall operations and literally dozens of smaller expenses.
Most of all, we seek to do whatever we can to ensure it is safe experience and this is always top of mind and action.
Just running over this list makes me anxious and proud—we work hard to take care of every detail to make sure we continue to be a world leader in volunteer travel experiences.
The reason I share all of this is that ME to WE offers programs that are high quality and still within general reach. Again, the overall purpose of ME to WE is to help support the work of WE Charity, but also ensure the trips are very safe, culturally sensitive and always amazing.
We design ME to WE Trips to connect people to community members and issues in developing communities and inspire future volunteers and donors. These are not traditional volunteer trips because we provide cultural immersion, development issues 101, leadership training and support so that travelers can create an impact upon return.
I think some summers I have aged seven years from the sleepless nights worrying over all of the details, but always bounce back when I hear the impact these trips have had on so many young people. I love hearing about the power of our programs.
ME to WE used some of its profits to invest in Track Your Impact technology that connects each purchase of a ME to WE product or ME to WE licensed product to a specific social impact.
Track Your Impact attaches an online code to our products that points consumers to the region where an equivalent donation was delivered in a developing country. It’s a sort of geotag for social good; a proof of purpose.
It is often difficult for charities to raise the funds to take risky ventures like Track Your Impact. ME to WE makes this kind of venture possible.
It’s an exciting innovation that transforms a simple purchase into lasting impact overseas. Each time you make a socially conscious purchase with ME to WE, you make an impact through WE Charity’s development model.
Track Your Impact is a game changer in a number of ways. We made a conscious choice to try to leverage existing retail channels to “piggyback” our message to a customer base. We are so grateful for retail partners like Nordstrom, Walgreens, Target, Cineplex, Staples that carry the ME to WE Artisans products and ME to WE licensed products and use our Track Your Impact platform.
In the US, WE Charity has been able to grow rapidly due to our ME to WE retail partnerships.
Thankfully we can avoid the costs of many large charities that spend tens of millions of dollars annually on their brand building, fundraising and advertising, including traditional media, online ads, street canvases, telemarketers and mass mailings.
ME to WE’s retail partnerships provide tens of millions of in-kind support, allowing our message to reach millions of people through non-traditional avenues.
For example, Nordstrom and PacSun, a US-based retail-clothing brand, provide us with hundreds of storefronts and tens of thousands of employees across North America to showcase the development work of WE Charity. Their stores include large displays about WE Charity, and they invest to train their sales associates to speak about WE Charity.
It would cost millions of dollars for WE Charity to pay for storefronts to promote WE Charity’s development work, and train employees to answer questions, Every time someone buys a ME to WE socially conscious t-shirt (sold at PacSun), or a backpack (sold at Staples), they learn about the work of WE Charity and are promoting a vision of a better world. WE Charity gains revenue from each sale!
I’m proud to say that ME to WE’s net profit for 2014 was approximately $1.7 million CAD and the corresponding cash contribution from ME to WE to WE Charity during this same period was approximately $1.5 million CAD.
Moreover, in 2014, ME to WE also donated more than $540,000 CAD in cost-offsetting, in-kind donations to WE Charity.
These amounts represent well in excess of the 50 percent of net proceeds that ME to WE is contractually obligated to donate to WE Charity each year. The balance of the funds was re-invested back into ME to WE to help grow the social enterprise and amplify its impact. An example of an investment would be developing new technology like Track Your Impact, or investing in infrastructure for a new country to host volunteer and cultural immersion trips.
Donation amounts vary per year, depending on various financial ups and downs, however, since inception in 2008, ME to WE has donated more than 88 percent of its net profits to WE Charity, not including in-kind donations and re-invested the balance of funds (namely 12%) in the enterprise itself to help ensure future growth and sustainability.
We are so proud of this fact, which allows for financial stability for the charity, as well as sustainable growth for the social enterprise.
The donations to WE Charity primarily fund administration costs. But ME to WE’s donation also allows WE Charity the flexibility to invest in technological growth, business innovations and new programs in the field, and also offsets some expenses.
As shared above, ME to WE provided more than $540,000 CAD in cost-offsetting “in-kind donations” to WE Charity in 2014. These in-kind contributions include travel, products, leadership training, youth speakers and thousands of hours of work from select ME to WE employees, who are paid by ME to WE and seconded to work on specific WE Charity projects. Each donation of product or service from ME to WE has a commensurate value that WE Charity includes in its budget, which tangibly off-sets its expenses.
Between 2008 and 2014, ME to WE donated approximately $3.5 million CAD in cash to WE Charity (88 percent of net profits during this period with the balance re-invested in the enterprise itself to ensure sustainability). In addition, it has also donated approximately $5 million CAD in in-kind products and services the charity. The in-kind donation amounts are separate and reviewed annually.
ME to WE invests the balance to grow the social enterprise. As just one example, we invested in technology like “Track Your Impact,” which allows WE Charity to create an ongoing conversation platform with donors, updating them on their projects, and building a database of supporters.
The Track Your Impact technology helps us provide a stronger backend to do inventory and match purchases to impacts in the WE Charity communities and track the money that supports the different impacts.
Recently, ME to WE also invested in an online portal to support families, students and individuals who book a ME to WE Trip. We now have a survey system and responsive technology that enables us to track the trip participants’ experience as well as their parents’ experience at home, so we can make improvements.
We have also built a small beading centre in Kenya. Skilled artisans are bussed there from the countryside to work on more intricate pieces, improve their skills and help increase their family income.
I’ll spare you my soccer analogy from earlier (once a jock, always.) But to be clear, even though they are on the same team, ME to WE and WE Charity are legally separate entities, with dedicated employees and separate buildings.
Although legally distinct, given the special and unique relationship between the entities, there is a clear governance system in place to maintain and manage this unique relationship. This system is embedded into the by-laws, structure and incorporation systems of ME to WE. As I mentioned earlier, this governance system was established by Torys law firm, and with the guidance of groups like KPMG, Miller Thompson and other third-party advisors that provided guidance. We took these extra steps because of the absence of a traditional social enterprise designation in Canada.
So that there is proper dialogue, as well as full organizational transparency between the two entities, the Chair of WE Charity’s Board of Directors sits on the ME to WE Board to represent the voice and best interests of WE Charity.
As the Chief Operations Director of ME to WE, I appear before the Board of WE Charity twice a year to present the financial vision and ME to WE’s future plans to ensure its long-term growth and successful support of WE Charity projects.
Scott Baker, the Executive Director of WE Charity, and I carefully review and document all financial interactions between the organizations. And in many cases, we seek appropriate independent approvals, including that of our respective Boards, as mandated in our policies. This is all outlined in WE Charity’s audited financial reports.
Similarly, there are some times whereby WE Charity may receive funds as a part of larger corporate partnership and ME to WE would help fulfill a specific aspect of the grant to meet the targeted social objectives.
An example would be a large, multi-faceted grant to help provide leadership opportunities for children in at-risk communities. As a part of this grant, a handful of program beneficiaries would have the opportunity to receive a travel scholarship to volunteer overseas. In such cases, ME to WE may fulfill these specific activities for WE Charity, with the formal blessing of both the corporate partner, as well as the approval process as outlined by the respective Boards of Directors. This type of program varies from year to year, depending on the wishes of the funders, but allows WE Charity to focus on what it does best, while ME to WE creates life-changing opportunities for program beneficiaries.
ME To WE has a small group of partners, supporters, and advisors who have made our work possible. We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jeff Skoll and Participant Media.
I will personally never be able to adequately thank Jeff. He is someone who has used his resources to truly create social purpose and impact. He revolutionized the online world with eBay and is now revolutionizing the concept of how to create social change.
He and his incredible team have helped Craig, Marc and me understand that you can make a positive difference, not only through traditional models of charity such as donations, but also through social enterprise.
By tapping into the force of commerce, social enterprise can wield enormous power in lifting people out of poverty. Jeff has shown how to unlock a sustainable revenue source for the charitable world, achieving a scale of impact that is rarely seen.
Since Jeff was one of the early supporters, we have received formal support from a variety of family foundations that have made targeted program-related investments to ME to WE, as well as the backing of a handful of successful individuals who believe in creating social change through sound business strategies.
ME to WE has very specific policies. As part of its formalized charter, ME to WE donates a minimum of 50 percent of its net profits to WE Charity, while reinvesting the balance to grow the social enterprise. Since 2008, ME to WE has donated more than CAD 3.5 million in cash and more than $5 million CAD in tangible, cost-offsetting in-kind costs.
ME to WE has very specific policies and structures to maintain its social purpose. Moreover, ME to WE does not pay dividends or provide any form of incentives to its stakeholders. It is simply designed to create social returns through the deployment of business strategies.
ME to WE selects its partners very carefully, only working with foundations, social enterprises and philanthropists who are pursuing a socially conscious purpose. Our partners are solely focused on a continued generation of funds for the purpose of creating a greater social impact. In other words, ME to WE has the altruistic goal of offering “stock options in a better world.”
Yes! An independent organization that specializes in measuring social impact and value, Mission Measurement, has been able to look at the social impact of ME to WE Trips, as well as youth impacts generally.
Mission Measurement has found that youth who have taken part in ME to WE leadership initiatives are 40 percent more likely to reward companies that are committed to solving social problems, and that 50 percent of ME to WE youth actually self-identify as socially conscious consumers, taking into account the social and environmental implications of companies in their purchasing decisions.
The CEO of Mission Measurement, Jason Saul, has also studied the impact of our work and is a huge supporter.
ME to WE has also been independently reviewed by numerous organizations, including a review conducted by retired Supreme Court Justice, Peter Cory.
Craig and Marc were also honoured by Ernst and Young as social entrepreneurs of the year.
ME to WE attained a flawless score in many categories to become a Certified B Corporation, after a rigorous yearlong examination process. Certified B Corporations meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability than other organizations and consider all stakeholders, including workers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
To achieve certification from B Corp, and say we meet a standard they have set, is very gratifying. We can now compare ourselves to other socially and environmentally impactful organizations – and we compare very well.
Consumers who purchase our products or our trips can now know that we meet the highest possible standards in social impact.
ME to WE received top scores in all assessment categories including producing financials that are verified annually by an independent source; tracking the impact of its work with small-scale suppliers, such as the women from Kenya who make handmade accessories for ME to WE Artisans; and reaching underserved and bullied youth in Canada, including those in aboriginal communities or high risk populations through its leadership programing.
One achievement we are very proud of is that the B Lab used a fair wage calculator to show that we pay the artisans that supply handmade accessories 2.2 times more than what is considered a fair wage.
It also found that 76 percent of ME to WE’s Cost of Goods Sold is spent on providing opportunity and paying fair wages to small-scale, independent suppliers in “low-income, poor or very poor markets.” This is extremely high. It is interesting in that ME to WE donates its profit to WE Charity, but it also makes an impact through its costs and expenses (which are subtracted to determine profit).
ME to WE also receives full marks from the B Lab for the training and development (and the tangible impact it has on efficiency and productivity) it provides to the artisans.
We also receive full marks for extremely high levels of women in its workforce, as well as women in management. It also receives full marks for pay equity when the level of male and female employee compensation is concerned.
ME to WE receives 100 percent of all available points on multiple criteria pertaining to the training and development it provides to its employees, for managers (average is 73 percent of total possible points), onboarding training (average is 53 percent of points), skills-based training (average is 56 percent of points), and life skills (average is 16 percent of available points).
ME to WE earns 100 percent for producing financials that are verified annually by an independent source through an Audit or Review (the average is 67 percent) and full marks for having financial controls in place (the average is 82 percent).
We scored very high in a lot of other areas. For example, ME TO WE has a written policy giving preference to suppliers owned by women or individuals from underrepresented populations. (100 percent versus an average of four percent).
ME TO WE also defines the outcomes (separate from the outputs) that it seeks through the provision of this product/service to its client base and these defined outcomes include specific targets that are based on existing literature (e.g. changes in household income, improved quality of life, ancillary benefits for customers/clients, etc.) that can be measured. (100 percent versus an average of zero percent).
ME TO WE has direct research on its products/services that has been performed to confirm that a desired outcome has been achieved. (100 percent versus an average of zero percent).
ME to WE also has key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics that it tracks on at least an annual basis to determine if it meets its social or environmental objectives. (100 percent versus an average of 49 percent).
In addition to all this, the spread between a coordinator salary and the highest paid executive is relatively small (between 1-5 times). We received the highest number of points available in this area, while other businesses have a higher spread.
It was a difficult, painstaking process. We had to track down documents and create tracking systems from multiple departments, including human resources, consumer engagement, the leadership team, facilities team, accounting and finance, which had to answer upward of 50 questions each.
ME to WE provided an estimated 25 different documents to the B Lab to show our social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability and the ways in which we consider our stakeholders, whether workers, suppliers, community, and the environment.
Being a B Corp requires a different mindset and process, rigor and discipline and ensuring you are actually doing things better.
ME to WE is a proud supporter of WE Day, which is an initiative of WE Charity.
ME to WE has donated hundreds of thousands of hours of paid staff support over the years to help make WE Day a success. We have also provided in-kind and financial contributions to expand the event.
WE Day is not an initiative of ME to WE, it is a separate entity and is operated under WE Charity, but it is part of the WE family of organizations.
More formally, ME to WE is a key program partner of the event, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, just like other leading sponsors and partners. As such, ME to WE has the opportunity to share its message at WE Day. Without the support of ME to WE, the magic of WE Day would not be possible. We are so proud of the social enterprise’s role in the event and plan to continue to play a critical role in celebrating young people.
We are creating a measurable portfolio of how social enterprise is an enormous force of good and can move the needle on social change.
I cannot stress enough how exciting these days are for social initiatives. We are creating a sustainable way to augment government funding and charitable giving, and this is on the cusp of going mainstream.
Right now, the legislation is still being crafted to recognize social enterprises as legal entities. And university business programs are using the relationship of ME to WE and WE Charity as a model to study new developments in social enterprise. As a business school grad, I am excited!
Please find case study from the Richard Ivey School of Business here:
In an age of government cut backs, social enterprises have the opportunity to rise to the occasion in a meaningful way. The best solution to poverty overseas is providing sustainable jobs, and the best way to give is through socially conscious capitalism, merging purpose and profit. Social enterprises could be the next great wave of doing good. We need more amplifiers, like Jeff Skoll, to recognize that this is a rare opportunity for the economic sector to do immense good and still make money.
I’m always shocked at how impactful our programs are. I love it when a parent or a youth tells me about the power of their experience at one of our Take Action camps or on a ME to WE Trip.
I love when someone tells me, “This has so inspired me that it’s going to be my career path,” or, “This is what I’m going to take in university.” ME to WE didn’t make them who they are, but we created an experience so they can advance who they are.
The second part of what I love is working with our team here.
We take on really big challenges; do new things that haven’t been done before. We’re by no means perfect, but we’re always striving for excellence.