Learning from the 2021 Innovator Awardees

Learning from the 2021 Innovator Awardees

The Innovator Awards recognize companies who are at the forefront of social innovation in business.

The Awards

The Parkinson Award for Purpose & Profit, named after Bob L. Parkinson, Jr., is given annually to the initiative that best embodies a holistic approach to marrying purpose and profit.

The Social Impact Award is given annually to the company that best addresses an urgent social issue through its business model.

The Environmental Stewardship Award is given annually to the company that best embodies business leadership for a sustainable world.

The Awardees

Parkinson Award: sweetgreen

What is sweetgreen?

sweetgreen is a restaurant chain with a mission to “build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.” As CEO Jonathan Neman states, “there is no such thing as a successful business and an unsuccessful community.” With a first core value of “win-win-win,” sweetgreen is dedicated to creating “solutions that are wins for our customers, our communities, and the company.”

What can businesses learn from sweetgreen?

“We’ve found that our commitment to our mission is the number one thing that drives our team members to want to work for sweetgreen and stay with sweetgreen, and it is also one of the top reasons our consumers love us,” explains Neman. “Each new generation cares more about mission-driven companies both as consumers and as potential employees.”

Watch the video here to learn more about sweetgreen.

Social Impact Award: Cleveland Avenue and the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (CAFE)   

What is Cleveland Avenue and CAFE?

Cleveland Avenue, led by CEO Don Thompson, is a venture capital firm focused on accelerating growth for entrepreneurs with emerging restaurants, beverages, services, and technologies designed for foodservice and hospitality channels.

CAFE, led by President Liz Thompson, is a foundation committed to “supporting and mentoring students and professionals as they progress through various stages of life,” by focusing on college access and success, career attainment, and professional development.

What can businesses learn from Cleveland Avenue and CAFE?

Don Thompson believes “if you can give entrepreneurs the support they need, amazing things will happen.” Cleveland Avenue’s Cleveland Avenue State Treasurer Urban Success Fund (CAST US) is a $70 million initiative dedicated to bridging the “capital and resource gap impacting Black, Latinx, and women entrepreneurs in Chicago’s South and West Side neighborhoods.”

Related to CAFE’s efforts, investing in education is “one of the most significant levers that we can pull in order to have impact,” states Liz Thompson. “When you invest in educating a young person, you are contributing to society for the next several decades…it’s one of those areas where when you invest today, the returns you see last a lifetime.”

Watch the video here to learn more about Cleveland Avenue and CAFE.

Environmental Stewardship Award: Honeywell

What is Honeywell?

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company that primarily operates in the business areas of aerospace, building technologies, performance materials and technologies, and safety and productivity solutions. Ultimately, though, “Honeywell is a technology company that applies our technologies to make human life better, safer, more secure, and more environmentally sustainable,” says President of Global High Growth Regions Shane Tedjarati.

What can businesses learn from Honeywell?

Tedjarati believes “companies like Honeywell can set a trend by themselves being environmental stewards, but also because we can help our thousands of clients around the world…be environmental stewards. This has a huge multiplying effect.”

Watch the video here to learn more about Honeywell.

Watch the full 2021 Innovator Awards presentation here.