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How BetterUp is committing to social impact through Pledge 1%


From Alexi Robichaux and Eduardo Medina, Co-founders of BetterUp

One of the earliest decisions we had to make in founding BetterUp was whether or not it should be created as a not-for-profit or for-profit enterprise. It was a serious question. We first met through volunteering with Youth Leadership America, and we connected around inspiring these young individuals. These kids weren’t looking for someone to tell them what to do or to fix their situation — they needed someone to empower them to figure it out for themselves. That was what inspired us to build BetterUp, because we were both hungry for that guidance, too.

We had this sense that we could build a product that people really needed, and that it could have real impact — it could change lives. But we also were inspired by the idea of building a company that could be successful while also creating value for different stakeholders —  our employees, customers, members, and the communities around them. Having witnessed the influence of mission-driven companies, we didn’t believe building a non-profit was the only way to make a positive impact. For us to reach millions of people with tools that would transform their lives, we needed to pair purpose with profit.

This perspective has defined our path at BetterUp — from the products and experiences we build to the education and practices that help people unlock their potential. 

To ensure our social impact stays aligned with our founding mission and deeply connected to our own growth, we established three pillars that have guided our approach these past eight years:

    1. Anchor around our human transformation platform.
      Our platform helps people and organizations reach peak performance. We will have the most impact when we support organizations that can leverage our core capabilities and align with our mission of helping people live their lives with clarity, purpose, and passion. 
    2. Focus on deep and meaningful impact.
      While our ambitions are limitless, we have finite time and resources to accomplish our mission. Greater impact will come as a result of greater focus. 
    3. Solve problems at their root.
      As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We believe that the only way to generate real and lasting change is to address the root cause of problems, not just their most prominent effects. 

These pillars led us to our latest social impact initiative. We’re joining Pledge 1%, a global movement co-founded by Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar, and others that encourages companies to donate 1% of their equity, staff time, product, or profit to their communities. BetterUp has made the decision to donate across all four categories, ensuring that we’re maximizing our impact across all areas of our business.

Regarding our Pledge 1% commitments, Marc Benioff said: “We’re thrilled to welcome BetterUp as one of our newest partners, a fast-growing organization that is not only helping humans thrive as part of their day-to-day business, but who is also committed to contributing time, product and services, revenue, and equity to the greater good. With organizations like BetterUp, we can continue to make a huge impact today and in many years to come.”

The following is a breakdown of our Pledge 1% initiatives currently in flight, and what we have planned for the near future:

1% Equity 

BetterUp has committed pre-IPO stock, ensuring that as we grow, our impact grows. Along with companies like Canva, Toast, and Coinbase, we are part of a group working to unlock $5 billion of new philanthropy by 2025 for causes and charitable organizations that drive positive change in the world. 

“In joining the Pledge 1%, BetterUp becomes a role model for early-stage, fast-growth organizations that make philanthropy and giving back a pivotal part of their business model, even as a pre-IPO startup,” said Ron Conway, SV Angel Founder and Pledge 1% Founding Member. “I am inspired to work alongside BetterUp’s founders and team as they dare to innovate the future of work through human transformation and continue to give back to the world via their time, resources, and invaluable contributions.”

1% Employee Time

Service to others is a powerful connection that positively impacts both giver and recipient. BetterUp gives each employee five paid days to volunteer in charitable activities that are meaningful to them, above and beyond the 1% commitment. And we recently kicked off a new tradition for the entire company: volunteer month. 

Starting November 1 and ending on #GivingTuesday, this annual event consists of manager-sponsored volunteer days, internal dialogues about gratitude and giving, and group volunteer events.

We’re also empowering our employee resource groups (ERGs) to lead and rally support for campaigns most relevant to them. For example, our military ERG is partnering with organizations like Team Red, White and Blue on specific volunteer efforts for active-duty and veteran service personnel. 

1% Product

Our products are built on the idea that the tools of human transformation should be accessible to more people everywhere. By providing free access to life-changing personal growth and development to organizations that support underserved and marginalized groups and communities, we hope to drive positive change for leaders that will ripple through their teams and communities.

Hidden Genius Project 

The lack of representation in tech companies for people of color is well-documented, and it is particularly egregious in engineering and technical roles, (which creates more bias online for users). As a result, they are less able to participate in, or benefit from, the most dynamic and fast-growing parts of the economy. 

The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The goal is to not only support the career development for individuals but, through them, open up opportunity pathways for others.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) supports young leaders who are transforming their Commonwealth communities across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. QCT provides their organizations with flexible funding to invest where it has the greatest impact, practical tools and support to make their organizations sustainable and effective, and a vibrant network of motivated young leaders to share learnings, ideas, and groundbreaking solutions.

Our collaboration with QCT includes offering 1,000 young leaders free access to BetterUp’s full coaching platform, so that they are better prepared for the pressures of becoming an entrepreneur, and so that their creative ideas can become reality. This type of support is aimed at helping them build and strengthen their confidence, resilience, and mental fitness, so they can expand their work, have a better chance of their creative ideas becoming reality, and ultimately, help their organizations drive greater impact. 

Belonging @ BetterUp

In the summer of 2018, we launched Belonging@BetterUp — an initiative to donate in-kind coaching hours to non-profit organizations working to dismantle injustice and inequality against underrepresented groups.

For 2022, we’ve already committed to donating coaching hours to additional organizations, including Upwardly Global, Defy Ventures, HBCU.VC, Black Women on Boards, and Echoing Green.

1% Revenue

Contributing to specific causes and communities in need, especially in the face of rapidly changing world events, has always been an important initiative at BetterUp. From our earliest days, we’ve rallied around company-wide donation drives, supporting diverse communities, those facing hunger, and more.

Pledge 1% is a long-term commitment that formally designates funds for our ongoing philanthropy and will galvanize our efforts for years to come. But our commitment does not stop there.  

To outline how we’re going to meet this opportunity to truly make a positive impact in the world and what that means for the future, we turn it over to our Chief Impact Officer, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. 

How we’re approaching social impact at BetterUp

From Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Chief Impact Officer of BetterUp

Our commitment to Pledge 1% is just one of many initiatives we’re taking as an organisation to generate positive social change, changing millions of people’s lives for the better. In the spirit of creating real and lasting impact, we will continue to focus on proactively building mental fitness into communities around the world. 

Just as training for physical fitness is good for us and can help us prevent or better recover from injury, training for mental fitness can build our resilience, strength, and even aid in recovery from trauma. Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance. The effects on the individual and the community around them are profound. 

As we grow, we will continue to look to the three pillars outlined by Alexi and Eddie as our compass for social impact work. In addition, we will evaluate opportunities for new partnerships and commitments based on the following criteria:

  • Impact Potential: There must be potential to partner across all aspects (equity, staff time, product, and profit) of our Pledge 1% commitment.
  • Access: The initiative must reach a diverse audience in an equitable manner.
  • Measurement: The organization must have a track record of real impact and be able to provide measurable, long-term community outcomes.
  • Values Fit: The organization must be trustworthy stewards of BetterUp’s resources, and their team should uphold our values of courage, craftspersonship, playfulness, grit, empathy, and zest. 

Giving back to those willing to give their all

In addition to the organizations outlined above who are receiving free access to our products, we’re focusing impact on those who sacrifice so much for their countries.

To us, this community starts with active-duty military, veterans, those making the transition to a post-service life, as well as their families. It also extends beyond our veterans to first responders and all those on the frontlines of maintaining our health and security. The men and women who serve or have served put the needs of all of us ahead of their own and devote their lives to preserving our freedom, rights, and safety. Time and again, they are the ones running towards the danger, when others are running away.

Like all of society, the military and service communities are diverse and vibrant. They come from all backgrounds and experiences, and though they shoulder unique stresses and the uncertainty of a life of service, all of us can benefit from their experience. Now more than ever, we need to not only better support our military community, but also learn from them: about what it means to prepare for the unknown, take care of one another, and build deep connections with people from backgrounds that are different from our own.

And when we see this community struggling —  with mental health issues, homelessness, discrimination, or substance abuse —  we need to understand that our collective support can reawaken purpose, belonging, and identity in our world. Especially when so many of society’s ills are mirrored in this diverse group of people.

Our goal is to provide the service community and their families with the support systems they need to build mental fitness and secure psychological resources to withstand the challenges they face, create resilience, and unlock their own potential — both during active service and once they transition to civilian life, so that they can continue to contribute to our communities.  

Our commitment to this group goes well beyond purely financial means. We are rethinking the resources, tools, and products that would best serve individuals and their families throughout the lifecycle of their service, and how that feeds back into society. Finally, BetterUp is committed to expanding recruitment in the veteran community so these individuals can become the future of our company, as well as creating new programs so veterans in our workforce can fully contribute their wealth and diversity of skills and experiences. Any of us would be lucky to have them.

Moving forward

We are thrilled to join the Pledge 1% movement and formally commit our time, product, profit, and equity toward those working tirelessly to improve our communities and keep us safe. We hope this inspires other organisations to take the pledge as well, when it is needed most — which is now.

Social impact is not some buzzword, secondary goal, or silo at the edges of our business — it’s intrinsic to the work we do here at BetterUp. Our success as an organization is deeply dependent on the positive social change we can make in this world.

The impact of our mission is on a global scale. We saw it, for example, in our partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust earlier this year, when 1,000 inspired young leaders across the Commonwealth gained tools for resilience and mental fitness that will be with them for life and will help to accelerate their impact on the world.

Our ambition is nothing short of improving the human condition. We envision a world where everyone has access to the support and care they need to thrive — personally and professionally. Pledge 1% is an important next step on our way to fulfilling that vision.

Published December 6, 2021

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