The Role of Lawyers in supporting Changemakers from the Perspective of Bill Drayton


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Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, explains how lawyers have a key role to play to support changemakers in understanding and adapting to the new ever-changing world.

The role of lawyers in supporting changemakers from the perspective of Bill Drayton

The Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG) and the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU Law just held on May 22-23, 2017 in New York their conference on the Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing – in the US and beyond.

It offered a great opportunity to meet leading lawyers and other professionals working in the field of social entrepreneurship and impact investing in a series of panels, discussions and workshops geared toward sharing knowledge and building a legal community of practice in this field.

One of the key moments was the inspiring discussion held between Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, and David Bornstein, co-founder of Solutions Journalism Network. The topic was on the « State of the Social Entrepreneurship Sector » and it reflected on our role as lawyers to support the corporate world in its journey to more sustainability.

Bill Drayton founded Ashoka in 1980 based on the idea that the most powerful force for good in the world is a social entrepreneur: a person driven by an innovative idea that can help correct an entrenched global problem. The world’s leading social entrepreneurs pursue system-changing solutions that permanently alter existing patterns of activity.

Bill Drayton emphasised that the current challenge for leaders – and for all of us – is to recognise and welcome the fact that we are at a turning point. Until recently change was slow and occasional, people and their organisation were therefore able to ignore it. Nowadays, patterns change, the frameworks change at a pace which has never been seen before. Automation and artificial intelligence accelerate this revolution. Bill Drayton stressed that companies, organisations and entrepreneurs need to adapt their vision and approach to business and understand that the old game is failing and that they should embark into the new game, understanding the evolving patterns and a need for sustainability and an inclusive economy.

In Drayton’s opinion, CEOs and other leaders must realise that social, environmental, and economic benefit are key to face the fundamental shift in the nature of business. Not only because it will make the world a better place but because it will ensure lasting profitability and success in tomorrow’s business world.

Bill Drayton highlighted the importance of teams in a world of change which requires fluidity and open organisations. But how to design organisations, governance, financial structures, with the right features to be in line with this ever evolving world? how to design optimal solutions for the lasting success of our business ?

According to Bill Drayton, lawyers have a key role to play to support the changemakers in understanding and adapting to this new game. To assist their clients efficiently, lawyers shall not only understand technical legal issues but also the overall context, the changing paradigms and the need for flexibility, sustainability and stakeholder inclusion.

Lawyers shall be drivers of solutions, progress and innovation. They stand at the forefront to help the business world to integrate a triple bottom line approach, one where companies are accountable not only for generating profits but also for creating positive social and environmental impacts.

Lawyers ensure compliance, infuse ethics into the decision-making process, weigh legal risks and protect the company’s interests.

Lawyers with a genuine understanding of what sustainability means for businesses can become strategic facilitators of an organisation’s growth.

At Froriep, especially through our Charity and mission-driven Organisation team, we strive to unlock sustainable business opportunities for organisations with an ambition to lead change. We take pride in being able to assist the full spectrum of for-purpose organisations, from charities to social enterprises and B Corps. With in-depth experience and expertise in these fields and awareness of the very latest developments in the sector, our clients benefit from a realistic and pragmatic approach to problem-solving in this dynamic environment.


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