Understanding Social Impact; In Conversation with Animas Community Member Kim Witten

Author : Jack Fleming

27th August 2021

How we come to define and understand social impact for ourselves, and in wider society, has seen a flurry of conversation in recent years. Social impact can be ever changing and deeply personal to the individual who is looking to enact positive change.

I sat down with fellow Animas Impact community member Kim Witten to hear how social impact resonates with her and what role this has played in her life.

What does social impact mean for you?

I see this at two levels — what does social impact mean for me as an individual in an increasingly challenging world and what does it mean for me as a business owner, contributing to a working society? These questions have two distinct yet related answers.

As a person, it’s about having compassion for others, caring about my community, and taking meaningful action toward growth and improvement. This entails knowing my values and being aware of my strengths and weaknesses, so that I can create the most change in myself and in others. This allows me to make decisions and collaborate with others on social projects from a place of confidence and purpose, rather than ego, uncertainty, or obligation.

As a business owner, social impact is about being purpose-driven in all that I do, and encouraging and enabling others to do the same. Sometimes that’s direct work with a non-profit or purpose-driven organisation to improve efficiency, support a Theory of Change, or volunteer my time in other ways. Other times it’s indirect and influential work, to enable and motivate business leaders to become more purpose-driven, inclusive, and strongly aligned to impact outcomes.

I believe that the world of business is currently evolving past the Age of the Customer and heading toward an Age of Social Good — I want to ensure that small organisations aren’t left behind, and in fact, are at the forefront of this change.

This shift toward higher societal goals requires every person to recognise and maximise the role they play at both these levels too. Where can you effect change in your personal life? How can you show up to your work with social impact in mind? Everyone’s answers will be different and unique to them, but we need them all included in the work we’re collectively doing.

Kim Witten, Transformational Coach & Sociolinguist

Could you draw on one example in which you engaged in a form of social impact?

Recently, through the Creating Space programme at Animas, I was able to contribute my time as a Transformational Coach in support of teacher wellbeing, as well as applying my skills as a User Experience Designer and Researcher to support the team behind the scenes.

As a fledgeling coach, this was a fantastic way for me to improve my skills, while also providing value to the programme in ways that I was already comfortable with exercising from my previous career experience. I think it’s a good example of helping ease the insecurity of doing something new and slightly scary by bringing in some existing strengths. As a result, my memories of Creating Space include both growth and mastery, the uncomfortable and the familiar, frontline and backstage support. But most of all, I was able to make a meaningful difference to a teacher, who goes on to shape the lives of many others. It feels incredible to be part of this social impact chain of influence.

Kim Witten, Transformational Coach & Sociolinguist

How have your experiences of social impact shaped your understanding of the concept?

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I think it’s one thing to think about a concept, to intellectualise and theorise. That has its place and purpose. It’s quite another to have embodied experience of a concept. You say to yourself, “Ah, that’s what that feels like.” Or, “This is what the work we did allows them to do now.”

It’s the difference between being able to say “ 85% of participants found Creating Space valuable” — which is impressive and meaningful — and knowing that because you helped this one person with their self-care routine, they were able to spend a stress-free Sunday night with their family, slept well, and felt refreshed for class on Monday.

You need to be able to convey both types of outcomes, but the latter is the relatable experience that shows what the day-to-day, ‘on the ground’ impact is like.

I’ve found that as I participate in more and more social impact projects and events, I have become more adept at seeing value and impact in all sorts of interesting new ways, from macro (stats) to micro (moments). That contributes to a well-rounded sense of pride and accomplishment for what’s been co-created.

Kim Witten, Transformational Coach & Sociolinguist

Looking ahead, do you have any ideas or plans for some social impact -based work?

I’d like to be an active contributor of a movement to make coaching more affordable and accessible, bringing it into new spaces or democratising the experience even further.

A lot of organisational coaching focuses on leaders and yet we’re increasingly seeing that coaching has benefits for all levels, and especially those on frontlines, in care work, from marginalised backgrounds or who are contending with other challenging circumstances. How can we reach those people and help them the best way possible? That’s the question I spend a lot of time thinking about. I’m working to align my personal efforts and my purpose-driven work toward an answer.

Kim Witten, Transformational Coach & Sociolinguist
Kim Witten, PhD

Kim Witten, PhD

Transformational coach, sociolinguist, designer and researcher

Kim is on a mission to change the way we think and talk about very real and valid feelings of insecurity. With over 20 years of human-centred design experience, a PhD in sociolinguistics and an accredited diploma in Transformational Coaching, her unique approach addresses the root of confidence issues. Find your WAY to your WHY is her new program to help people understand who they are and where they want to go. From career changers to change-makers, she's supported people from all over the globe in finding their inner voice and gaining the confidence to make it stand out.

Find out more about Kim

If you would like us to help tell your story or you would like to share your coaching niche, philosophy or agenda in the form of a blog, like this one – contact Sam to express your interest: sam.chambers@animascoaching.com

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