The last few years have seen a crazy world take shape in front of us. Between climate crisis, the pandemic, economic upheaval, wars, racial inequality, gender issues, and political turmoil, it makes one wonder how to best contribute to building a better world for the future.
After all, it feels good when we make a positive impact. It can be a small change such as contributing a few dollars to someone in need, or it can be a larger change such as starting a new program or organization for social justice or community service. And of course our jobs and careers can also contribute to making positive changes, either through donating money or using our time to make inroads to solving issues.
A movement called “Effective Altruism” formed in the late 2000s by Oxford University philosophers uses science and data to determine how people can use their time and skills to do the most good in society. When the movement first began it focused on lucrative careers so as to generate more money to contribute to important causes. But that has morphed into other approaches to doing good with our careers. This has been particularly true in the past few years during the pandemic as workers consider their purpose and meaning of their work.
This led to the nonprofit called “80,000 Hours” which evolved from Effective Altruism to help people design careers where they can do good things in the world. Why 80,000 hours? On average, today’s workers are likely to spend 80,000 hours working over a 40-year period (40 hours/week x 50 weeks/year).
But how does someone find the right career to pursue? What is our best opportunity to have a positive impact in the world? 80,000 Hours gives advice to job-seekers who are looking for high-impact jobs that address the social problems that concern them. Perhaps it is working at a start-up company focused on a new medical intervention, or a technology company focused on climate change.
The four main factors for defining your impact are:
Help solve a more pressing problem.
Find a more effective solution.
Find a path with more leverage.
Find work that fits you better.
Think about it.
What issues drive you? Where can you do the most good?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
This is a slightly softer activity that the usual ones about creating a new marketing program. But, it is very relevant to today’s students.
Discuss the importance impacting local and global issues for the future benefit.
Poll students: What are their concerns for the future? With what issues would they like to get involved?
The following two organizations and websites can take some time to review. Set aside some class time to allow teams to review the articles and approaches.
Peloton has been riding high for the past year as gyms closed and people took their fitness routines into their homes. Peloton stock and sales are at an all-time high. To be clear though, high sales volume has given the company problems with supply chain and manufacturing during this time period. It even has a recall due to problems with broken pedals on its bikes which caused injuries.
However, a more recent and critical problem for Peloton has been a number of cases of injury to adults, children, or pets being pulled underneath the rear of the treadmill. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been at least 72 reports of adults, children, and pets being pulled under the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children and one death of a six-year-old child. Serious issues indeed.
The recall notice was issued by Peloton, but only after an urgent warning from the CPSC that forced the company to change its initial stance about the problems. Peloton is now offering a full refund for owners of the treadmill.
What should companies due about hazards to consumers?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
Discuss the components of public relations and crisis communications.
The world’s first Earth Day events started in 1970; it was the 51st anniversary this year on April 22nd. Supporting environmental protection activities, Earth Day includes numerous events held around the globe. Last year more than 100 million people participated in what has been called one of the largest mass mobilizations ever! The climate demands our attention.
Many companies are using creative ways to get our focus on Mother Earth this year. Restaurant Panera is recognizing the growing use of biking during the pandemic and how Panera fits in by copying its signature bread bowl shape into a bicycle basket. The bike is olive green and the basket is bread-brown, making it easy to cart around foods and goods. Panera was the first chain to label its food to show carbon footprint as well as nutrition and calorie counts. According to the company “if every Panera customer ordered a Cool Food item on April 22 it would – compared to the average American diet – reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 1,100 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.”
Another Earth Day event was burger chain Carl’s Jr. teaming up with Beyond Meat at one of Carl’s Jr. Los Angeles restaurant. It gave away free plant-based burgers and offered faux meat sandwiches for $5 via an email promotion. Carl’s Jr. already carries a Beyond Meat burger patty and has sold more than 12 million Beyond Meat burgers. The event was intended to draw in younger, flexitarian-diet customers. According to a University of Michigan research study, Beyond Meats “products need 46% less energy, generate 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than a standard beef patty, and have 99% less impact on water scarcity and 93% less impact on land use.”