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Total Societal Impact: Contextualizing and Applying

Government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are doing a lot more than some might give them credit for, yet the humanity is still far away from reaching any of its sustainability objectives. Over the past decades, the global community started to recognize the role the private sector could potentially play in solving some of the world’s most prominent issues. As a result, companies were pressured to articulate their core values and implement practices, which would be of environmental or societal benefit. In light of the growing popularity of addressing critical issues the world faces in business operations, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) started to gain prominence. However, enterprises integrating CSR into their practices and strategies is not as durable and sustainable as necessary for creating long-term solutions to global problems. As such, businesses should leverage their capabilities and construct long-term strategies using a special lens. This lens should take into account the novel concept of total societal impact (TSI). The following paper underlines the main differences between TSI and CSR and provides an example of a company successfully adopting TSI as a core element of its strategy.

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In order to compare and contrast CSR and TSI, it is important to examine both concepts in more detail. CSR refers to a business’ responsibility to craft its strategy, while taking into consideration various societal, environmental, and cultural issues. In the hopes of keeping up their image and communicating better with the customers, companies worldwide proclaim their own commitment to engage in CSR practices. As shareholders, including employees, customers, and the government, became more invested in the private sector’s contribution to solutions of the world’s most prominent problems, the popularity of CSR skyrocketed. Yet, the buzz started to die down as shareholders acknowledged the inefficiency associated with CSR (Stolan & Gilman, 2019). CSR initiatives are usually one of the company’s lowest priorities, always facing the threat of being cut. Moreover, they are often disconnected from the enterprise’s overall strategy.

TSI offers a new approach to ensure that the private sector positively affects communities worldwide. It refers to a set of measures and practices aimed at assessing and improving the impact a certain company has on the world. The main difference between CSR and TSI is that the latter one is scalable, and thus, can be effective in the long term. Furthermore, TSI can be successfully integrated into the business’ overall strategy. A corporation no longer has to invest in a frenzy of initiatives. The TSI approach allows enterprise to take advantage of their capabilities to make an impact, while generating profit. A successful example of TSI integration is the case of Lyft. The company’s vision is to uplift communities through transportation, while minimizing the impact of car ownership on cities and the environment (Lyft, 2020). Lyft continuously evaluates its practices and perfects its strategy. Rather than spending many resources in disconnected CSR initiatives, Lyft focuses on the opportunities for direct positive impact it has. As a result, apart from advocating and committing to green transportation, the company invests in compensating its drivers fairly, assisting people in need with transportation to access medical care, and partnering with NGOs to ensure road safety.

In conclusion, it is evident that companies benefit greatly from adopting a TSI approach. While CSR only encourages to invest in initiatives that would benefit the society, TSI allows to integrate an approach beneficial to communities and businesses into corporate strategies. Although it might appear challenging, implementing strategies powered by TSI is possible and exceptionally beneficial. A great example is Lyft, which focuses on its capabilities and pioneers the future of transportation.


Lyft. (2020). Environmental, social, & corporate governance annual report. Web.

Stoian, C., & Gilman, M. (2016). Corporate social responsibility that “pays”: A strategic approach to CSR for SMEs. Journal of Small Business Management, 55(1), 5–31. Web.

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