From Impact to Chief Impact Officer

Prince Harry made headlines when he decided to join BetterUp Inc., a growing coaching and mental health firm, as the firm’s first Chief Impact Officer. While this C-suite role isn’t new by any means, it is innovative in the private sector, highlighting the increasing role of business when it comes to social impact.

So, what exactly is a Chief Impact Officer?

The Chief Impact Officer’s work sits at the intersection of environmental, social, and governance metrics and their organization. The role is meant to help organizations create, increase, and report on impact. Oftentimes, many of these C-suite level executives have decades of experience under their belt with foundations and charities. However, these roles are uncommon, and a vast majority of them are confined to the nonprofit sector or tech companies such as Salesforce.

As consumers continue to pressure businesses to be more prominent in social impact, there are three key trends that will lead to the rise of Chief Impact Officers:

  • Focusing only on sustainability is no longer enough – while it is important, it’s only part of the equation.
  • Impact is an entire board issue – as such it must form part of every strategic planning discussion, and have a meaningful place in systems, processes and structures.
  • More investors will expect it – over time, we can expect social impact and Impact Officers to be a pre-requisite for access to capital.

Businesses are increasingly aware that doing good in the world is expected of them and getting impact right is more important than ever before. With this increased responsibility, the private sector will have to become more intentional, strategic, and focused on implementing correct processes and roles. As this responsibility and expectation grow, we can expect that the role of a Chief Impact Officer will become the next strategic step forward.

Read more about C-suite Impact Officers here