We hold ourselves, the work we produce, and the approaches we take to high standards. We believe that being collaborative and open is the best way to drive impact that matters, scales and endures. We each play a part of a larger ecosystem where the ripple effect of our individual actions can either create or destroy value for our people, communities, and planet. We adopt a mindset of abundance as we strive to understand that, confront our shortcomings, and do our best to create shared value.
Our story is unfinished. We have much to learn and so many new challenges to tackle. This impact report is an open reflection of our shared commitments and progress in 2022, as well as the gaps and goals we’re working towards for 2023. Through this effort, we hope to look back each year with pride at what we have accomplished, rather than regret at what we failed to do.
iF partnered with native-led nonprofit, Indigenized Energy, to reimagine an organizational structure to achieve their mission of energy sovereignty for tribal nations. Facilitated discussions surfaced truths and tensions which prevented the team from moving forward.
This was an emotional process that was not easy at times, however the team’s ability to engage in open dialogue led to some transformative breakthroughs – from greater role clarity to goal definition to strategic prioritization to effective collaboration. The impact of this work is still felt today and has created new opportunities for IEI to support native communities at scale.
iF joined forces with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) to design and stand up their Fellows Program. This student fellowship met a critical need for the Advising Success Network: positioning Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, Asian, and Pacific Islander students and poverty-affected students as experts on their experiences.
iF helped ensure a commitment to a student- and equity-centered approach every step of the way. The broader impact of this work has just begun – from equipping students with resources and opportunities, creating a platform which centers the student voice, and building a feedback loop to ensure students are supported equitably and holistically in the future.
At the start of 2022, iF set out to increase our collective awareness and understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, led by Jackie St. Louis, Director of Cultural Awareness & Integration. The intent of this internal work was to evaluate the current state of iF’s policies, practices, and culture through a DEI lens, but also to celebrate the unique stories, backgrounds and expertise of our team.
This ongoing learning journey is not meant to lead to a final destination, but rather guide each individual along the path of self discovery and critical thinking to better equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to question how and when equity is present in their work.
We moved the needle last year around clarifying our organizational purpose, engaging diverse stakeholders, and building our internal DEI awareness last year. We have made significant progress but also realize that there is more work to be done if we are to truly enable our people, clients and partners to be agents of change and realize the desired impacts they hope to create. In 2023, our hope is to positively impact the lives of people beyond the walls of iF by amplifying our mission externally, empowering diverse stakeholders, and centering equity across our work.
iF partnered with BMGF’s Economic Mobility and Opportunity team to deepen understanding among key audiences about the state of poverty and economic mobility nationally. We conducted research which centered the target population in a way that illuminated their challenges and shifted perceptions around what it’s like to live in poverty and economic insecurity.
By empowering people to share their stories in a real way, we hoped to empower actors and add to the resources that proximate leaders could provide. From the outset, we sought to be true partners with the target population, including offering fair compensation, respecting their expertise, and presenting them in a light that did not reduce them to their condition but rather respected and upheld their humanity for all that it entails.
COVID-19 highlighted the stark inequity of oxygen access between the developed world and low and middle-income countries (LMICs). With a globally recognized need for oxygen evident, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Philips commissioned PATH to take the concept of Oxygen as a Utility (OaaU) and operationalize an innovative plan to make LMICs oxygen self-sufficient.
To bring their vision to life, Phillips needed to convince a consortium of industry leaders to join the endeavor. iF was brought on to help stand up the Universal Oxygen Coalition (UOC) and led founding members of the coalition through the process of reimagining a new business model for sustainable, on-demand oxygen that saves lives. In 2022, OaaU was selected as one of five moonshots to achieve the SDGs.
Last year, we did more projects that focused on illuminating systemic, structural, and organizational inequities. We also designed strategies, models, and tools for creating equitable change. To ensure our work is driving real, positive change in marginalized communities there are gaps that need to be addressed. In 2023, our hope is to shift our focus beyond design to implementation of social change by: getting closer to the root cause, and following through from idea to impact.
Intentional Futures played a crucial role in reshaping gDiapers’ strategy, a startup company that produces the only fully compostable diaper on the planet. Despite interest from potential partners and investors, gDiapers was struggling to navigate the dual headwinds of COVID-19 and supply chain issues. With iF’s help, they were able to re-imagine their business strategy and secure funding to expand and integrate their product into communities in Southeast Asia, where the need for sustainable diaper solutions is high. We developed a compelling pitch narrative for impact investors highlighting both the environmental and social benefits of the business model, which has sparked momentum and funding from both philanthropists and businesses.
Over the past year, we have collaborated with the Yale School of Management to co-design a proprietary approach for Stakeholder Innovation. This emerging design methodology posits that complex societal issues require taking an ecosystem view to redefine the problem across stakeholder perspectives, and design the solution to serve a multitude of unmet needs. We are currently testing and iterating this approach with various organizations and we believe it will unlock better ways to tackle complex issues from climate change, racial justice, geopolitical conflicts, gun control, reproductive rights, etc.
“Design has largely been applied to one stakeholder: the “user.” Stakeholder-Centered Design is about framing problems and creating solutions for multiple stakeholders. This isn’t the norm for most companies.” - Jon Iwata, Executive Fellow at the Yale School of Management and Practice Leader of Program on Stakeholder Innovation
In the fall of 2022, we officially moved into our new office space, which is located in the heart of Central District, Seattle’s oldest and most diverse residential neighborhood. It is a priority for our entire team to ensure we are active and engaged members of our community. One way we’re doing this is by participating in the City of Seattle’s Adopt-a-Street program – we have adopted the stretch of street in front of our office and a few blocks beyond, and have implemented quarterly street cleanups with all iFsters.
From 2014 to summer 2022, we benefited from being part of a zero carbon office building. With our recent move, we must hold ourselves accountable for doing our part to minimize harm to our environment. Last year we took small steps to engage employees in giving back to our local community, and came up with ideas for making our new space more sustainable and accessible. We are also helping several organizations consider the negative environmental impacts they have.
However significant gaps remain for us to truly reduce our eco footprint. In 2023, we will actively commit to minimizing waste in the ways that we work and prioritizing solutions that are in service of the planet and future generations.
In an effort to narrow our remaining gaps, we commit to the following impact goals this year:
Amplify our purpose
We’ve sharpened what we stand for internally, now we need to communicate it externally in order to seek like minded partners and drive greater collective impact.
Empower diverse stakeholders
We will advocate for and experiment with participatory and inclusive decision making methods to elevate minority voices within iF as well as those we partner with.
Center equity in the iF way
We will integrate our DEI principles across the practices, processes, and tools we use to help more organizations narrow equity gaps and increase positive outcomes.
Get to the root cause
We will prioritize community-based research and co-design to surface unheard/unmet needs and possible solutions for driving equitable and sustainable change.
Follow through from idea-to-impact
We will partner with mission-driven allies to test, learn, iterate, and measure the positive (and negative) impacts that our work has in the world.
Stand up NextGen/ReGen models
We will move more leaders and organizations to embrace regenerative behaviors and practices designed around the needs of future generations.
Validate SCD for social issues
We will apply our stakeholder-centered methodology in ways which directly advance critical social issues including racial justice, climate action, gender equality, health reform, immigrant rights, etc.
Role model “greener consulting”
We will prioritize the use of local and sustainable products, minimizing our physical and digital waste, and integrating with our neighboring community.