Nothing About Us Without Us | Net Impact

Nothing About Us Without Us

Here at Net Impact, as we look to engage the next generation around social and environmental sustainability, we continue to challenge our network, ourselves, and our initiatives to be more inclusive and more empathic to the changing world around us.


There is a growing sentiment that the current means of engagement and action fail to capture those who are marginalized and unheard. Further, many of our systems are not designed to listen much beyond the majority, core customer, or key demographic. There is growing concern among stewards of companies and capital -- in the plan to "do well by doing good" -- that their objectives may entirely ignore the on-the-ground sentiment of the communities they aim to serve.


In fact, the expression "Nothing about us without us," most recently used by disability activists, is now also being used by historically-marginalized groups and some academics, investors and corporate sustainability personnel, who recognize the value of understanding the perspectives of all stakeholders. If conscious investors or corporations seek to produce social or environmental impact, those directly affected should also be identified as stakeholders. It's not only moral to incorporate them in the dialog and decision making, it's smart business.


As we gear up for the 27th annual Net Impact Conference this October in Detroit, Michigan, it is critical to include all of you -- our constituents -- in shaping our agenda to do the same. Our 2019 Conference theme, Widening the Lens, directly relates to our programmatic commitments, but it also refers to a collective network of people (investors, employees, customers, neighbors) and planet.


The Conference will highlight some of the new and interesting work in this space, as we bring together speakers and experts on a wide range of topics including socially-responsible investing, system design, global poverty, homelessness, the efficacy of corporate responsibility, and much more. Together, we'll examine what it takes to tackle some of today's biggest challenges, and discuss ways to widen the lens to do it in collaboration with some of the most unlikely allies.


As an iconic and large member organization, Net Impact continues to expand our programmatic reach and engagement through challenges, campaigns, fellowships, our community of Chapters, and of course, annual events like NI19. We seek to fill a broader, more relevant mission continuum, that both we and our stakeholders believe in.


Suffice it to say that deep into my first two months on the job at Net Impact, I've been dazzled by all our stakeholders -- members, alums, funders, past and future conference speakers, and you. We are walking the talk too, as we take Net Impact forward, not about you without you.