Socio-Eco Innovator: What is it and how can you become one?

What’s one of the most common questions I get from students and working professionals?

What is a socio-eco innovator (SEI) and how do I become one?

What is a Socio-Eco Innovator (SEI)?

SEIs are professionals who lead careers that successfully blend financial return with social impact and environmental responsibility.  As such, SEIs can be found across the private, non-profit and public sectors.  Across these sectors, SEIs aim at measuring their results and return on investments using a triple bottom line approach.  They measure financial return, but also assess the social and environmental impact of their work.

How do I become an SEI?

The visibility of SEI careers is higher than ever.   However, for aspiring SEIs, more information can also mean more confusion!  This post is designed to help you explore your options and further articulate your career goals.  Whether you are an aspiring SEI currently in college or an experienced professional that now wants to add social or environmental value in addition to the economic value you have been creating, this post will help you get to information and contacts that are relevant to your goals faster!

A first question to answer is ‘what type of SEI you want to become?’  Some of the most visible SEIs are social entrepreneurs, while other SEIs are social intrapreneurs.

  • Social entrepreneurs create new organizations to eradicate a specific social or environmental problem.  A great starting point:  Find out more about the new recipient of the 2010 Social Innovation Awards!  These SEIs might be making a difference related to a cause you want to contribute to.
  • Social intrapreneurs make their unique contributions as members of existing organizations (for examples, see our company directory, or explore B-Corps).

The good news is that, through Justmeans, a goldmine of information is available to you!  Indeed, you can find and follow thousands of incredible SEIs through the people search interface.  These SEIs walk the talk and are a welcoming community of professionals that are dedicated to tackle tough social and environmental challenges.  Following updates from SEIs that are further along in careers that appeal to you can tremendously accelerate your learning.  Here are a few ways you can leverage current SEIs through Justmeans:  Read what they read, contribute to their conversations, learn about their goals and the challenges they face, and connect with them for informational interviews.  All these strategies can be tremendously helpful for you to clarify your career goals.

Another way to proceed is to attend relevant events that will take place close to where you live.   There is nothing more impactful than meeting like-minded professionals that can mentor you through your exploration process!  These interactions will provide you with valuable insights as you bridge the gap between intention and action and build your own career as an SEI.

As an aspiring SEI, you can add immediate value by knowing how to measure social and environmental return on investments (SEROIs).  Numerous discussions and research projects are currently underway to establish frameworks to best measure social and environmental impact.  For more on these topics, see Justmeans conversations among SEIs here, and here.  Excellent reviews, articles on trends and opinions on this subject can also be found on our Editorial blog on Social Enterprise.  My current favorite post reviews the newly developed L3C business denomination, which enables social entrepreneurs to found a for-profit business eligible for non-profit funding.  This business denomination is a clear signal of the trends that have been observed for years:  the boundaries between sectors are blurring.  For-profit and non-profit ventures are blending to maximize SEROIs.  To become a successful SEI, it will be important for you to acknowledge the complexity of such questions.  It will also be key for you to use your critical thinking skills to evaluate the quality of the information you gather as you put together an evidence-based framework to measure your own SEROI.

By leveraging these resources, you will be able to accelerate your learning and articulate your goals as a socio-eco innovator.  If you have comments and questions along the way, post them below or please send me an email.  I will address as many questions as I can in future posts!