n life and in impact analytics my advice is the same, keep it simple and focus on what you can control. At Tablecloth, we work with private equity, venture capital and institutional investors that are interested in understanding and articulating their impact.
Often these entities are looking for measures of things that are way too far away. They want their investments to end poverty, for example, or measurably improve global health. Those are pretty lofty goals. Rarely is it possible to prove those outcomes. Instead we encourage our clients to look closer to home.
If you are investing into companies then you are investing into employees. This is the first place we tell investors to look for impact. Employees (and their families lives) are shaped by the quality of the job and the economic opportunities that job provides. We measure if they are paid a livable wage, provided paid sick leave and health insurance, or are given opportunities to rise up the ranks. These are very real, tangible and measurable impacts that have broad-ranging effects on the communities where they live and work.
Jobs impact almost every aspect of one’s life.
Your job can determine your health and well-being for example if you are required to work in unsafe conditions or are not provided paid sick leave.
Your child’s future and economic opportunity is shaped by your job. If you need to work multiple jobs, you can’t always provide the educational support they need, especially in today’s paradigm of online school.
Where you live is affected by your job in that it determines what neighborhood you can afford to rent or buy in. Your zip code has been directly tied to both average lifespan and quality of life.
Have you heard the term asset limited, income constrained employed (ALICE for short)? These are our pre-school teachers, store clerks, and nursing assistants, to name a few. They are the working poor who struggle mightily to make ends meet.
An ALICE often has to pair a full-time job with gig work to make ends meet. They are someone who regularly has to choose between paying rent or utilities and paying for their child’s medications or dental care. They are one health crisis or broken down car from falling off the financial cliff. We all know ALICE. They are our neighbor, our friend and our colleague.
We help our clients find ALICE and begin to reverse the trend too many workplaces perpetuate. Keeping ALICE poor is not the intention of running a for-profit enterprise. But often it is the consequence of it. So when our clients realize that more than half of their workforce isn’t paid a living wage this is where we help them start to make a dent in a big complex issue like poverty. We count how many ALICE’s are in their portfolio and then together with them provide a scorecard and set of goals to make improvements.
The upside isn’t just social. The companies and the funds benefit economically and we measure that, too. They reduce costs associated with recruitment and retention of employees. More and more research shows that companies that treat employees well are more successful and sustainable. Companies that fail to pay attention to the quality of jobs provided, undertake undue risk.
Getting the risk-return balance is hard without good measurement and constant feedback. That’s why we started Tablecloth. To provide investors with tools to measure their impact. How we do that may seem complicated but it does not have to be. If you take the big complex issues and break them down to manageable steps we can all contribute to the greater good and make a profit at the same time.
Begin simply and simply begin.