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Why channeling the energy of youth is key to sustainability

October 2015

In recent years, as we’ve thought about social movements and the millennial generation, many have conjured up images of protesters, from the “Indignados” in Madrid to those who occupied Wall Street. What the millennials found was that protesting (for the most part) didn’t bring about lasting social change. So instead, they turned to making a difference by working with institutions, writes Noa Gafni, ceo of Impact Squared.

By working alongside institutions and individuals that already have a seat at the table, millennials been able to channel their energy in a constructive manner. This new type of movement- conscious movements- has adapted the enthusiasm and organizing principles of traditional social movements. Conscious movements funnel the energy of young people and the gravitas of established institutions to bring about positive social impact.

Businesses that engage with millennials in this unique way can maximise their social impact, create a pipeline of top talent into their organisation and improve the perception of their brand with an influential audience. Most important, however, is that organisations must integrate social impact in order to succeed.

Combining old and new power
Heimans and Timms described the rise of new power, which is "open, participatory and peer-driven" as a contrast to the old power of established institutions, which is "closed, inaccessible and leader-driven." The tension inherent in these two types of power makes them seem binary and incompatible.

Conscious movements are able to manage this tension in a way that brings about the best of both worlds. The Global Shapers Community, part of the World Economic Forum, turns this tension into an opportunity. One of the Global Shapers’ sponsors, Coca-Cola, facilitates interactions between new-power leaders and its executives during the World Economic Forum at Davos and throughout the year. Shapers take part in cross-mentorship schemes where they learn from Coca-Cola executives, and the executives, in turn, learn from the Global Shapers. And, Coca-Cola provides the resources to scale social impact initiatives launched by Shapers in their annual ‘Shaping A Better Future Grant Challenge’.

Connecting on and offline
Conscious movements recognise the importance of both online interactions and in-person meetings. In a world that emphasises online interactions over in-person gatherings, conscious movements flip this logic on its head.

Lean In, a conscious movement launched by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, encourages women to launch Lean In Circles- small, in-person gatherings where women discuss their professional challenges, seek advice and share resources. Lean In's website provides Circles with the tools they need to manage meetings, access expert videos (for professional development during meetings) and interact with other Circles nearby. Lean In uses technology to enable face-to-face connections that build trust. And they have partnered with corporations, from Amazon to Blackrock, to create Lean In circles as part of their diversity programming.

Bridging Global and Local
Although the world is more global than ever before, most of our contact continues to take place locally. Of all the telephone calling minutes in the world last year, only 2% were cross-border calls. The average person consumes just 1-2% of their news on foreign sites. And at the same time, cities are becoming a more powerful force. Over half of the world's population lives in urban areas currently, which projected to increase to 66% by 2050.

Conscious movements make the most of both the global and the local. +SocialGood unites a global community of changemakers around the power of innovation and technology to make the world a better place. Working with a number of corporate partners, including Amway and Caterpillar, the community empowers globally connected influencers to share ideas, create experiences and adapt content to resonate with local communities.

Conscious movements provide institutions with an opportunity to engage young people around "moonshot ideas" that drive lasting social change. They are not appropriate for all organisations and all social challenges. But, with a thorough plan, corporations can create conscious movements that engage millennials in a meaningful way to create a lasting impact.

Global | Social Impact


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