Creating Social Value Where Opportunity Knocks
By Nisha Munshi, Babson MBA Student and Sr. Regulatory Nutrition Specialist for Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.
“You’re a Registered Dietitian and you work for Dunkin’ Donuts?” A bit of an oxymoron, right? I thought so too until I took Babson’s Social Value Creation (SVC) Matters class.
After three years of working as a regulatory nutrition specialist, I felt that something was missing in my job. I wanted to be in a position where I could contribute to society in a meaningful way. This is what ultimately led me to pursue my MBA with a focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). I thought that if I could transition into Dunkin’s CSR department, I would be able to make a larger impact by working on initiatives such as employee development, sustainability programs, and community engagement. Eventually, my plan was to move on to even bigger companies’ CSR departments to reach an even larger audience.
After listening to and engaging with the leaders who presented their stories in the SVC class however, I realized that there are plenty of opportunities to create social value no matter what department you’re in. Getting into a CSR role is not the only way (or perhaps even the best way) to get the biggest bang for your buck in creating social value. In fact, many companies don’t even have a dedicated CSR department, and some that do are often tagged as “greenwashing” rather than being sincere because the initiatives are not tied to the company’s overarching strategy. At the end of the day, I learned that it’s not about what title you have or what position you play, but rather it’s about what type of leader you are. More specifically, it’s about being a good corporate citizenship leader.
Good corporate citizenship leaders have a passion for the cause, long-term foresight, the ability to tell their story, and good business acumen – they have a solid foundation of the business in its entirety. Hence, many successful leaders, such as the ones who spoke in class, come from departments such as supply chain, operations, marketing or corporate affairs – not necessarily CSR. They are persistent, strategic risk-takers who communicate their story along the way, gaining followers who share their values. Ultimately, they leverage this support as they work their way up the ranks in order to successfully incorporate social value creation into the overarching business model of their companies.
The biggest takeaway from this class for me was that no matter what role you end up in and regardless of what company it’s with, there are always opportunities to create value. The key is to identify them, pursue them, and take them throughout the journey. In fact, I now realize that by being a dietitian for Dunkin’ Donuts (and Baskin Robbins), I’m actually already creating value for society. By utilizing my nutrition expertise to help make improvements to the foods offered within the quick-service industry, I’m directly impacting the health of the general population. My hope is that one day America truly can run on places like Dunkin’, and I am sharing this story with whoever crosses my path along the way.