I read an article today in TechCrunch by Jim Fruchterman, founder of Benetech and it was amazing, so I had to write about it, of course. In it, Fruchterman writes about a letter recently written by Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, a global investment firm, and sent to the CEOs of some of the largest companies of the world. Titled “Sense of Purpose”, the letter discusses how “Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”

 

Sounds like great news, right? But it seems like Silicon Valley, where some of BlackRock’s biggest clients reside, choose blissful ignorance. Why is it that some of the world’s biggest, most influential companies do not prioritize having a positive impact in the lives of the people who use their goods or do their work over winning the numbers game?

 

Personally, I’m excited that someone is calling for accountability in this world. Companies should be encouraged to think of everyone their business may impact at all levels and to envision “stakeholders” in a new, all encompassing way. They are more than just the board that handles the votes and reaps the dividends. They’re the consumers and the creators and everyone in between.

 

When I founded GLYD, I had one overarching goal in mind—to build a more connected world that fosters compassion towards one another. I want to encourage people to see more of each other through travel. To embrace the uniqueness that each corner of this world has to offer. To thread the needle that can connect our souls. To break cultural barriers that we hold on to so tightly. And to see beyond the world we create in our minds and experience this earth and appreciate its people for who they truly are.

 

If GLYD is truly to be a success, and embody this new vision that CEOs like Laurence Fink and myself are adopting, we have to start at home. As living beings who share this world, we have a responsibility to each other. We are all stakeholders. And when we create companies, we must keep in mind not only the masses that we hope to affect through our product, but the people right in front of us—our own team members. If we pay no attention to our teams or work to diversify our core, any efforts to impact the world will fall on deaf ears. How can we be of any benefit to the world if the rewards our companies seek to create can’t even be experienced by those tasked with making them happen?

 

One of the things I had to face head on when we started work on GLYD was of course, the travel bubble. The number of people in this world who will never get to travel outside their village, town, city, country is overwhelming. Some may not have the financial means. Some may feel it’s out of their reach. For those people, their only glance at a larger world often comes from encounters with new people or through the stories, photos and memories shared by those who travel.  With a simple connection, a person who has never left their country can experience the world through the eyes of someone who has.

 

When I think of GLYD at its best, I think of the GLYD team sharing their travels and enhancing their experiences through our community. I want GLYDrs to share their world with someone visiting it for the first time, and earn a little extra to help them set out on their next fulfilling journey. And for the person exploring their GLYD Feed who has maybe always wanted to travel but never quite been able to make it happen, I want posts from GLYDrs, the GLYD team and all who use it to be a source of encouragement, inspiration and empowerment to help make their travel goals possible. These are the people I see as GLYD’s true stakeholders. And I’m hoping it’s this type of thinking, which Jim so brilliantly addressed in his letter, that helps lay the groundwork for helping to make this world a better place.

 

If Jim is right, the sooner we understand this, the better.

 

Original article appeared in print in NYTimes on Jan 16, 2018.  Online NYTimes written by Andrew Ross Sorkin titled “BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support”