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Social Change vs. the Status Quo

Social Change vs. the Status Quo


Note: In honor of Social Venture Network’s 25-year anniversary, the network is inducting 25 of its most innovative and influential leaders into its hall of fame Nov. 13 at Gotham Hall in New York City. To recognize these sustainable business pioneers, SVN’s news program, ‘Sustainable Solutions,’ is interviewing the hall-of-famers to celebrate their accomplishments and learn what more needs to be done. Read the whole series here.

Creating social change isn’t easy work, says Cheryl Dorsey.

The status quo too often fights against it.

Social change requires vision, dedication and perseverance, and as Cheryl reflects on the evolution of social entrepreneurship over the course of the last 25 years she sees a new understanding today of the reality that profit and social responsibility in business can co-exist.

The young social-business leaders she sees today through her work as president of Echoing Green, an organization dedicated to providing seed financing to socially-responsible business ventures, are blurring the boundaries between nonprofit and for-profit work.

“You really see this sense that all business should promote double-bottom line, triple-bottom line returns,” she says.

“Prior to 2007, Echoing Green saw, literally we think, maybe one for-profit social enterprise; now, 40 percent of our deal flow are these double-bottom line, triple-bottom line businesses.”

Dorsey first became involved with Echoing Green as a fellow in the early 1990s when she embarked on the path towards social-impact business — a massive divergence from her initial chosen field of medicine.

The fact that she pursued her passion with success — much to the dismay and consternation of the people closest to her — is a great source of pride as she reflects on her career to date.

She’s been honored this year with a Social Venture Network Hall of Fame Impact Award as a Visionary Social Entrepreneur. She’ll join the leaders of 24 other organizations at an awards celebration in New York on Nov. 13, sharing the stage with fellow pioneers of a movement that she says is changing the world.

As she considers this honor, she looks to the future of the movement as both for-profit and nonprofit organizations compete to recruit and retain the young leaders of tomorrow, those who are determined to make an impact on the world around them in their life purpose.

Her advice to up-and-coming visionaries is to hold firm to the belief that business can be a tool for world benefit and to feed off the passion they feel in the face of adversity and possible failure.

She agrees that if you aren’t facing resistance then perhaps you aren’t thinking big enough, especially when challenging a status quo that “will use so many tools and weapons in its arsenal to maintain and solidify its existence.”

Nobody told her when she shifted careers two decades ago of how the status quo will shame visionaries into reticence — just one tool in its arsenal.

“I wish someone had told me that instead of being quieted or marginalized when you are shamed into believing that your way of thinking is the wrong way of thinking (you should recognize) that this is exactly what the status quo always does to people who are one step of ahead and can see what tomorrow looks like before anybody else can,” Dorsey says.

“Having enough confidence in your ideas and your values and your beliefs to stand up when nobody else can quite see it yet, that’s something I wish I had known 20 or 25 years ago.

“We’ve got a lot of things to fix out there so we need people to stand up and take on these issues.”

This article written by is part of a Social Venture Network series featuring its Hall of Fame honorees.


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12:42PM PST on Nov 4, 2012


9:33AM PDT on Jul 18, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:04PM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

I must say, I feel somewhat inspired after reading this!

5:47PM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

Thanks for posting!

7:33PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012


7:10PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

David N -- here's your green star that Care2 won't let me send to you.

1:14PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

Many tribal groups do not seek social change and enjoy a life with the status quo (tradional values) until some outside groups seeks to destroy their way of living. In modern capitalistic society we have forced social change, in many negative ways, to optimize profits for corporate executives and their corporate stockholders. Many current laws and corporate guidelines require that the sole objective is obtaining the greatest possible profit. Our laws need to be changed so that all corporations are required to have "triple-bottom-lines," focused on social good and environmental protection along with profit making. If we fail to do so, the oligarchy of the elite one percent (having recently gained control of the U.S.) will surely solidify their power.

12:40PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

Keevin - It's funny you mentioned Nazi Germany and the BOP in the same post. The reason is that many of the fathers/grandfathers of the current crop of BOP leaders...were closely aligned with Germany and did whatever they could to keep the US from fighting them. Go back to look at the history of IBM/Ford/Bush/Koch and you will find overwhelming enthusiasm for Hitler's ideas. For instance...IBM allowed the Third Reich to count their undesirables. Many of the motors used in the German war machine were manufactured by Ford. Koch's family were intertwined with oil/gas in Germany with several family members being active members of the Nazi Party...while Prescott Bush was actively supporting Hitler while his son was flying in WWII for the Americans.

12:05PM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

great article

7:36AM PDT on Jul 14, 2012

People resist all kinds of change--inertia exists for societal movement just as it does in the physics of the physical world. All change requires sufficient momentum to overcome that initial inertia.

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