Local startup offers first social impact certification for businesses

Cincinnati-based startup Mivie has launched the first standard social impact measurement for companies in the United States.

The goal of the certification is to help businesses understand and enhance their policies around corporate social responsibility, supply chain diversity and overall diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Tom Fernandez founded Mivie – which stands for Marginalized Impact Value Indicator for Equity – after becoming frustrated over what he called a “lack of intention and commitment” by companies to “walk the talk” related to social impact.

“After the death of George Floyd and the national, racial awakening that came with it, companies strongly pushed to deepen their social impact, but that commitment began to wane,” said Fernandez, president and CEO of Elevar Design.

Tom Fernandez

“We are back to where we started partly because there is no rule book,” he added. “Social impact can only be accomplished if we hold organizations accountable through a universal standard certification.”

Fernandez believes his nonprofit offers a more robust certification than other available alternatives because it examines “more than internal human resources practices and policies.” That approach, he said, “won’t move the needle on social impact.”

By comparison, Mivie evaluates a business or organization’s internal and external policies and practices through nine pillars. They range from hiring, training and pay equity to purchasing, procurement and community and environmental impact. 

Ryan James is Mivie’s executive director. The Mivie team consists of researchers, business leaders and DEI specialists.

Prior to hiring James, Fernandez consulted with childhood friend and colleague Eric Kearney, president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce.

Kearney, co-chair of Mivie’s advisory board, said this new certification is important because “DEI leaders are leaving their positions,” and their companies are “slowly abandoning” inclusion efforts because there isn’t a standard of measurement to guide them.

The two-year certification includes a three-step process. It starts with an online survey focused on workplace policies and practices. It takes about one hour to complete. 

A Mivie evaluator spends about a month reviewing and scoring the survey. Company leadership then meets face-to-face with a Mivie liaison to discuss the survey results and go over a tailored set of recommendations for improvement.

Advisory board member Kimberly Bunton – president of TKT & Associates in Louisville – described the certification is being much bigger than “achieving a specific score.”

“(Mivie) certification provides organizations the tools and resources to progress and positively impact their workforce and communities,” she added.

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