Business as a Force for Good in the World, Susan McPherson, Podcast #39

Susan McPherson is the Founder & CEO of McPherson Strategies, a consultancy focused on the intersection between brands and social good. Susan had an enormous amount of insight on everything from the possibilities for business to create positive change in the world, to how daunting that first big step into a life ‘without a paycheck’ can be.

Comments (Archived):

  1. P Donohue

    I really enjoyed this topic, as it hit my sweet spot. Because a business should have the opportunity to make the world a better place for them having been in it as well as make a fat net margin at the same time. Its not against the laws of physics, so why not?I did not hear the whole thing as I went to comment and it seems one cannot listen and do that at the same time (they should fix that).However, I am not sure you guys touched on the proper legal structure for companies in the USA who want to address social problems as well as make money for investors. The only safe route to that being the “benefit corporation” structure, versus the C corp structure. For the benefit corporation gives management the legal space in their charter to do more than just chase quarterly profit at all costs, collateral damage be damned.That concept is gaining traction, however there has yet to be a Benefit Corp Unicorn to hit the street. Consequently, the buy-in by the VC community has been rather tepid at best regarding Benefit Corp. companies. I believe there may have been only one exit to IPO for such a company. But, that is my observation and opinion based on my less than perfect memory.About glass ceilings, I have always told my daughters, “Own the ceiling, control the glass.” With that in mind, which highly profitable, medium to large companies have female founders and majority female C suite? Not many I believe. There should be more.One would think a natural would be Fem Hygiene industry. But no, there are a few, very small ones with female founders, but historically the industry has been comprised of all male or mostly male populated enterprises. Further, the patents they hold are granted primarily to men or teams of men with an occasional woman thrown in.What’s with that?Of all the industries in the world, one would expect women to dominate that one, as the Fem Hygiene biz stands out as one that would lend itself to that. But such is not the case with the one exception that I know of, Quebec’s FemPro. Started by a woman who designed all the product and the company, they made and sold liners, pads and tampons. However, she sold the company to the employees, who later sold FemPro to First Quality, owned by First Quality Enterprises, Inc. a family biz founded and owned by the Damaghi family of Great Neck, again, a bunch of guys.However, I believe the product lives on as a Target house brand that has Fempro in the package fine print.However, if one looks at Fem Hygiene from forty thousand feet, one sees an industry ripe for disruption. For little has changed since Tampax first hit the shelves behind the counter in the local pharmacy and were sold in whispers. Sure, the giant pads and belts have been replaced by thin pads and tampons, with cups being a recent innovation. Cups, however, have a tiny slice of the market as evidenced by shelf space at Target and any other retailer.The market for Fem Hygiene is at least half the world’s population. Furthermore, when a girl first starts trying out products and once she finds one she likes, she is most often a customer for life, unless the manufacturer really screws up her product. This has interesting possibility. Get them while they are young and you are golden for decades. Few products are that sticky, maybe razors.Going back to the big picture, I see an opportunity for the first “benefit corp unicorn” via Fem Hygiene. A business of women for women, providing not only a much needed and vital product but also local, globally networked small businesses that can provide income opportunity, via making and selling ecologically sound, benign, multifunctional product for women the world over.Additionally, given every woman in the world menstruates (duh), its a problem they all can probably identify with, share and bond over. Every woman has a story to tell about her period. Thus Fem Hygiene has possible social power and opportunity unlike most. There are several very successful blogs that deal only with menstruation. So, it seems Auntie Noe and mom have been replaced by these, where young ladies go to seek info about what to expect regarding their first experiences with menstruation, fem hygiene products, proper application thereof, stories about periods and boyfriends and most embarrising moments. It seems like that could be successfully leveraged if done right.Furthermore, I believe Fem Hygiene products can and will be enhanced to detect health problems, like early onset ovarian cancer, as well as provide other advantageous data like imminent failure with countdown to overflow (an idea my eldest daughter came up with and we filed a patent for, US20170016838 A1).Also, Re: “Planned Parenthood” Maybe its time to rebrand with the primary emphasis on women heath as reflective of their actual practice?