Gazelles Are Creating Responsible Jobs, Do You Know Where to Find Them?

Responsible careers that successfully blend financial return with social impact and environmental responsibility can be found across sectors.  Whether you are interested in a career in corporate social responsibility, sustainability, social enterprises, nonprofits, or are driving change through social intrapreneurship, you have more opportunities to do well while doing good today than ever before!

The question remains though, where are the jobs?  In a previous post, I provided 15 responsible job boards you can select from to get started in this process.  Today, let's focus on another important aspect of socio-eco innovation (or responsible) careers:  What types of organizations offer jobs.  As mentioned by Steve Case, CEO of Startup America, earlier this week at the DEMO Conference in Palm Springs, "With enterprises less than five years old responsible for creating all net jobs in America over the past 30 years, the importance of promoting innovation is more paramount than ever. High-growth startups are vital to the future economic growth of the country, and the Startup America Partnership will work with the private sector to ensure that startups have every best chance to succeed."

To best understand what that means in terms of responsible jobs, let's use the bestiary developed by David Birch, a former MIT Professor turned business consultant who gathered and synthesized massive amounts of data related to business growth in the US.  In his framework, you have really three types of organizations:  The Elephants (large organizations, think Fortune 500 companies, Goodwill Industries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, etc).  These sizable organizations are highly visible and a job at these organizations comes with quite a bit of prestige (and a larger paycheck).  At the other end of the spectrum are mice,  which are typically small startups and main street organizations).  Note that over the past 30 years, mice have created about 66% of jobs in the US.  Between the elephants and the mice, you will find the gazelles.  Gazelles are small companies (fewer than 50 people) who are enjoying a consistent high growth (typically 20% over 4 consecutive years from a base of $100,000 in revenue).

Of course, we all know that the elephants have shed quite a few jobs between 2008 and 2010.  Furthermore, and despite record profits posted in 2010, the elephants haven't hired much, contributing to the jobless recovery we are currently experiencing.  In contrast, according to data from the Kaufmann Foundation, the mice (or startups that are 5 years and younger) have been responsible for most of the US job creation between 1977 and 2005.  Some socio-eco innovation mice can be found through the unreasonable institute, as well as through hubs such as,,, as well as among the winners of the William James Foundation Social Business Plan Competition. However, these mice might seem to risky for many aspiring responsible professionals interested in pursuing responsible careers that are financially and personally rewarding.

Hence your best bet is to look into socio-eco innovation gazelles.  But where can you find who these are, and most importantly what jobs they are creating?  I would recommend to start with the Social Venture Network, B Corporations, Net Impact, as well as with members of the Conscious Capitalism Movement, BALLE, and the American Sustainable Business Council.  These hubs might have been less visible than the Fortune 500 or the Global 1000 rankings, but they include the gazelles that truly get business done better.

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