This is my first memo as the newly appointed chief impact officer at Global United Financial Firms (GUFF) and I would like to thank everyone for welcoming me to the group. Some of you will be unfamiliar with the role of chief impact officer, but you may have seen headlines about Prince Harry taking on the role at a Silicon Valley firm. Of course, I don’t have the prince’s star quality but I hope I can do the same job in enhancing the reputation of GUFF that Harry has done for Britain’s royal family.
The job title may seem odd, but with a change of one letter in the title, think of me as a “champo”, championing the things our organisation cares about. I will be flying round the world to promote our focus on combating climate change. Along with the chief happiness officer, I will be trying to maintain employee morale. Expect to receive regular weekly surveys about your physical and mental health, and on whether you are able to get on with your work or feel bogged down by corporate bureaucracy. Remember, there is no “I” in team but there are three in chief impact officer. I will be using them to watch over you all.
Now I may be the firm Champo but I am no “chumpo”. As a white male on a six-figure salary, it might seem as if I may not have the ability to sympathise with regular folks. But it is only because I have lived a life of privilege that I have the connections to bring about real change. By itself, my appointment has led to the expansion of the C-suite offices and thus more work for building contractors and interior designers, as well as my pair of executive assistants. Rest assured that I deal with normal people on a daily basis, whether it is cleaning staff, limo drivers or security guards, and I always have a cheery word for all of them.
But at GUFF, think of me not as an executive, but as your servant. Whether it is Zoom, WhatsApp, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts or email, my channels are open. I am willing and able to hear from you 24/7, with the unfortunate exceptions of 8am-9am (pilates class), 10am-11am (executive thought shower), 2pm-3pm (mindfulness break) and Sundays (golf day).
There may be cynics among you who ask “what exactly does a chief impact officer do?” The answer is easy. My plan is to invest in high-quality impact data to ensure we are at the leading edge of impact measurement. I can’t be any clearer than that.
We know that our company has an impact but we can reduce it, like a seat belt or a passenger airbag. Think of me as the company’s new airbag, ready to be inflated at any moment. Or, alternatively, as the voice of the satnav, there to tell the firm when it is going in the wrong direction and needs to “make a U-turn where possible”. In my case, though, I will be the satnav you can’t turn off.
You may also ask why, if our social and environmental impact is so important, Brad Piranha, our chief executive, doesn’t handle the issues himself, rather than bring in an outsider. It is a good question. I think it’s a sign of humility on Brad’s part. He is happy dealing with the short-term issues of generating sales and meeting budgets but prefers to leave the “thought leadership” to me. “I’ll make the money and you handle the touchy-feely stuff,” as he put it.
So let me give you an initial brain dump. During the pandemic the company has cut its carbon footprint because you have been working at home. So stay there. Don’t worry, we won’t lose touch. Our new software will keep an eye on you at all times, monitoring your keystrokes and your facial expressions to make sure that you are not suffering any stress. On Friday afternoons we will stop for group drinks. Pick the beverage of your choice and relax while either myself or Brad gives the team a motivational speech. Every week one staff member will be picked at random to respond with a speech of their own to the entire group. That should ensure spontaneity.
And when the lockdown ends, two lucky staff members a month will be chosen (based on their screen time) to get the chance to relax in the executive spa for an hour (evenings only). The rest of you won’t miss out: you will have the chance to take a video tour of the spa, including the Olympic swimming pool and hot tubs, at any time to see what could be in store. It is hard to think of anything that could have a greater effect on staff morale than that.
Here’s planning to impact your life every day.
Will Meaning, chief impact officer
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Shallow impact”