On day 2 of GCUC Nate Heasley, Executive Director of All Good Work, discussed how to give a coworking community purpose. Social responsibility is becoming increasingly important and should be incorporated into coworking spaces.
Anti-Harassment and Equity
When asked, very few people in the conference room confirmed that they have implemented an anti-harassment policy in their space. A good space needs to be able to set standards for their community’s behavior and make sure that their members understand the community guidelines.
Firstly, it is important to recognize equity issues that may be occuring in your space. Look at where you are doing your hiring. Recognize that while there are a lot of females participating in coworking, there is still a bit of a glass ceiling. This barrier holds true in terms of racial issues as well. Coworking tends to still be very white spaces. However, as the industry grows, centers are moving beyond the traditional downtown areas, moving into neighborhoods, and serving the local populations. The move into more diverse areas needs to be reflected in both the members and staff of the spaces.
Diversity is important to incorporate into your space but you should not rely on nonprofits alone to be the diversity. The diversity needs to be created within the space from the beginning. Since centers tend to reflect the neighborhood that they are in, you need to carefully consider your location and the outreach you to that area before you open. It helps to meet the community where they look for jobs — find out where people gather. Additionally, think about your overall impact on the area you are in. Do a thorough analysis of everything you use. Be sure to use an environmental perspective as well.
When you buy products that you use in your space, look for recycled products. It is actually pretty easy to find cost competitive options. There is a trend is energy usage for finding greener alternatives. Many states allow you to choose your energy operator — wind, solar, etc. Given how much energy coworking spaces use this is something worth looking into.
Social Responsibility to Your Benefit
These social responsibility programs are about having something positive to talk about and having something constantly in the news that you can promote. The more you can put yourself out there, the more you can host organizations that draw publicity which is going to increase your connections and attract new members. However, personal gain should not be the sole driving factor in social responsibility. Social responsibility allows you to be a good corporate citizen and start a movement within the industry.