Bobbi Silten on building purpose and equity into your corporate strategy - Kathy Varol
Bobbi Silten
July 6, 2022   |   Episode #: 033

Bobbi Silten on building purpose and equity into your corporate strategy

Show Notes:

Bobbi Silten is the Managing Director of the Shared Value Initiative, a global community of leaders who find business solutions for societal challenges, and who build smarter models to address the changing needs of our communities, the environment, and business.

Bobbi has been a long-time practitioner of leading social change through business. Previously, Bobbi was the Executive Vice President of Global Talent & Sustainability at Gap Inc. Over the course of her 12 years with the company she led the transformation of Gap Foundation.

In 2011, Bobbi was appointed by President Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions. In 2020-21, she was a co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Systemic Inequalities and Social Cohesion.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The importance of embedding social equity into a company’s core business strategy
  • How traditional materiality assessments have fallen short of examining the inequities underlying ESG (i.e. environmental, social, governance)
  • How to co-create solutions with the communities you aim to impact
  • Advice for successful partnerships where there is a power imbalance

Key Takeaways: 

  • How we frame problems impacts the way we problem-solve and ultimately the way we show up. There is a huge motivational and psychological impact of switching an organization’s focus away from “risk aversion” to purpose-driven problem-solving. While it’s important for organizations to maintain compliance, a myopic focus on avoiding risk doesn’t spark passion. However, shifting the focus to an inspiring vision of how your company can impact lives will change the way employees show up: sparking innovation, collaboration, and engagement.
  • For a long time, companies were only measured on revenue and profitability. Hit those metrics, and you’re considered a successful company. In today’s world of ESG, companies are being asked to move from a one-dimensional view of success to a holistic view of success. This is complex. It requires creating new metrics and tracking impact across a number of dimensions. As Bobbi mentioned, one of those dimensions is considering how your company increases, or decreases, equity disparity through its business practices, culture, and products. It’s this holistic view that will allow business leaders to make informed decisions, with an understanding of the impact it will have across all stakeholders.
  • As the saying goes, what gets measured gets done, but sometimes the metrics we’re rewarding change behavior in unintentional ways. Therefore it’s important to pay attention to what behaviors spring up based on what you’re rewarding, and to adjust as needed.


Site Design Rebecca Pollock
Site Development North Star Sites