Three Stages of an Impact Career


Taproot founder Aaron Hurst breaks it down

by Aaron Hurst

When Net Impact CEO Liz Maw identified three kinds of impact-focused career types common among MBA students, it resonated with Net Impacters and non-members alike. So when Taproot Foundation founder Aaron Hurst shared his take on the typical trajectory of those who seek a career that makes a difference in the world, we asked if we could share it here to continue the conversation. What do you think? Does this ring true for you, or are you doing it differently?

Nearly every business professional I meet expresses a desire to make a positive impact in their career. It is a noble and very worthy goal but it is often hard to know where to start. What I have found is that for most professionals, there are three stages to an impact career. With each stage a professional takes on greater appreciation for their role and power.

1. Give Back

At this stage, we begin to realize our personal responsibility for our professional footprint in the world. We want to offset the harm we create in our jobs – even if it’s just the harm we create as consumers. We want to “give back.” This is also usually combined with an impulse to help those who have been less fortunate as well as to pay it forward for all the help we had along the way.

Common ways professionals seek to give back:

  • Donate to charity
  • Volunteer their time in the community
  • Provide their professionals skills to those who can’t afford them on a pro bono basis
  • Serve on a board

2. Do No Harm

Recognizing the harm on the earth created in some many jobs, business professionals at this stage seek to find jobs that are impact neutral. This requires looking not only at the materials you consume in your job but also the impact of the products and services you help create for the community.

Common ways professionals seek to do no harm:

3. Do Good

For business professionals for whom making a positive impact is their primary career objective, giving back and doing no harm isn’t enough. It is critical to them that the very work they are doing is making the world a better place.

Common ways professionals seek to do good:

  • Only take jobs that provide products and services that are healthy for individuals, society and the planet

How are you making an impact in your career? What stage best describes your current approach? What are your career aspirations for impact?    Send article as PDF   
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