Experience by Design

Drew Bonfiglio and Designing Business for Good

Episode Summary

On this episode of Experience by Design, we welcome Drew Bonfiglio of Emzingo to our studios. Drew and Emzingo are focused on driving innovation and responsible leadership to make business as a force for good in our world. We talk with Drew about the origins of Emzingo out of a graduate school project, the B-Corporation movement as a model for social responsibility and change, whether business can actually deliver on its promises, and the challenges of swimming in mayonnaise. A great timely episode to explore how might we make business as partners of a better world rather than an impediment to it.

Episode Notes

As social scientists in sociology and anthropology, we are well-versed in the examination of business as a source of disruption in society. The privileging of profits over people, the extraction of resources for the benefit of shareholders, question ethics and legality rationalized as a necessary evil. Especially looking at the slash-and-burn era of the 1980s and 1990s, we saw business culture as "greed is good," with Wall Street being given greater attention and importance than Main Street. 

As a result, it is easy to be cynical of the greater calls by businesses to be ethical and socially responsible. While there still are important reasons to be suspicious and critical of the motives and impacts of business (especially large multinationals), there are other indications of change in the mindset and philosophy of business culture and leaders. Gary's own place of employment has touted “Business for Good” as a mantra where businesses are a part of the solution to the massive challenges and wicked problems facing all of us. As the Business Roundtable endorses a “stakeholder model” and there is more discussion of ethics and social responsibility, we are left wondering just how serious can these claims be taken?

To talk about social responsibility and business, we welcome Drew Bonfiglio from Emzingo. Emzingo was born out of an academic exercise in graduate school that now exists as a thought and action leader in making business as a force for good. Replacing the studying abroad experience with more of a focus on social entrepreneurship, Emzingo provides pathways for businesses to do better and be partners in creating positive social change. 

We talk about the challenges of making businesses live the words that they speak. We also talk about the B-Corporation movement, and how Emzingo has been part of the effort to create certified socially responsible businesses. Working with company leaders and employees, Drew and Emzingo try to create socially responsible experience and design outcomes for a better society. Finally, we talk about how swimming in mayonnaise can get very tiring, and how trust is the absolute key when asking companies and employees to wade into uncertainty.