bSMART Guide

Communications consultant, serial connector, and corporate responsibility expert, Susan McPherson knows that doing the right thing is not only good for business, it’s good for employees, and gives a better return on investment. Founder of McPherson Strategies, Susan helps companies, non-profits, and foundations amplify their reach and find the intersection between profit and social good.  An investor and advisor to start-ups including, ZADY, Positive Luxury,, Apolitical, Gold Bean, Reserve, and The Muse, Susan has been named Number 5 on the Guardian Sustainability's Most Influential Twitter List out of 100, one of 40 Women to Watch Over 40, and Fast Company's 25 Smartest Women of Twitter.  Learn how to have an impact on corporate social responsibility as a corporation, entrepreneur, and consumer, how to communicate your brand promise, and how to be smart as a female founder and global citizen.

Learn more about Susan and McPherson Strategies here!


Be good.  Be empathetic.  Be compassionate.


Conscious Consulting

What is your vision for the future of corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility is doing the right thing as a business, giving back to the communities in which you operate, and not taking from the earth without giving back.  There have been some major changes in the field of corporate responsibility over the last 30 years, but the most exciting part to me is that we’re seeing CSR being embedded in startups and new entrepreneurships.  It’s no longer the purview of the Fortune 500 or the Business Week 2000 or the FTSE 100 Index.  Looking ahead, I would like to see more businesses practice CSR, not only because it’s best for the business, but because it’s best for their employees, the communities in which they operate, and it drives a better return on investment.

Why do corporations need to care about social responsibility?

By doing the right thing, your company will attract and keep the best employees.  If a business offers employees the opportunity to volunteer, for example, studies show that those employees will actually be more productive on the job.  Your employees are your most important asset, so why not do what’s going to inspire those who work for you?

Studies show that if you’re philanthropic, supportive of social causes, and responsible with your environment production, those things are going to help you attract and keep the best employees.  We’re also seeing studies that show consumers are more likely to buy from companies they perceive to be doing the right thing.  If you’re a business leader, why wouldn’t you implement CSR?


By doing the right thing, your company will attract and keep the best employees.


How can entrepreneurs implement CSR through their product or service?

Implementing CSR doesn’t have to be a big monetary expenditure.  If you’re a small business and you’re operating in a local community, you can give back to a local charity or give your employees the opportunity to fundraise or volunteer for that cause.  That’s not a huge investment on your part, but your employees and your customers will take notice that you care about your community.

What is the power and impact consumers can have on social impact?

You have the power in your purse, your pocket book, and your wallet to push changes every day of the year.  One index, called the Buy Up Index, allows you to check which companies are placing women in senior positions.  If inclusion and diversity are important to you as a consumer, you can spend money on those companies that are actually being mindful of inclusion.  You can also look online and find companies that are being environmentally conscious, socially conscious, and philanthropically-minded.  The consumer has a lot of power and their dollars mean a lot to those businesses.


Consumers are more likely to buy from companies they perceive to be doing the right thing.


How can we make slow fashion more affordable and accessible?

Sometimes it’s better to spend a little more and have something that will last throughout the season and even into the next season.  I don’t mean to put down the fast fashion merchandisers, but there’s something to be said for buying a few things that may cost a bit more and will last for many years to come.

Some fast fashion companies are starting to be much more conscious in their designs, materials, and supply chains, so I think you’re going to see a lot of changes.  It’s important to spend a little more and purchase those products that won’t combust or self-destruct when you walk out the door.


Watch Susan's bSMART interview here!

You have the power in your purse, your pocket book, and your wallet to push changes every day of the year.


Fearless Founders

Who are the CSR thought leaders that have influenced you the most?

Lisa Witter is a social activist and business leader who co-founded, one of the first online communities for civil service.  It can be hard to find a place where those who work in public service or for governments can be inspired.  Apolitical is a platform that inspires and sparks innovation from civil servants around the world.

Diana Verde Nieto runs Positive Luxury, a company that shines a light on luxury brands who are pushing the envelope to be more sustainable and philanthropic.  Instead of shaming brands, they highlight the ones doing the right thing so that other brands can get on the bandwagon.

Ruth Ann Harnisch runs the Harnisch Foundation which focuses on including more minority voices in the media such as transgender, LGBTQ, women, and women and men of color.  Ruth was a broadcast journalist for many years back when there were very few women holding the anchor chair on television news.  She toiled in the industry that was male dominated and rose to very senior ranks. Given the world that she came from, she has a real credible voice.

From a startup visibility perspective I would include Soraya Darabi and Maxine Bédat who founded Zady, Kellee Khalil who founded, Kara Goldin who founded Hint Water, Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol who founded, and Kathryn Minshew and Alexandra Cavoulacos who founded The Muse.  Those are just a few of the remarkable superstars I tip my hat and bow my head to for the incredible work they've done.


Never be the person who’s afraid to say hello, shake someone's hand, and smile.


How can female founders be smart with their business and social impact?

Build your confidence.  Never be the person who’s afraid to say hello, shake someone's hand, and smile.  I realize that can be scary, but if you know that everyone else is terrified, somehow that takes the fear out of it.  

Secondly, we live in a world today where you have instant access to anyone.  Between Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and whatever else is coming down the pipe, you have incredible instant access.  You can even tweet right to the President of the United States.  Use these platforms — don't be afraid of them.  The worst thing that can happen is the person doesn't respond.  

And lastly, smile more than you frown.

How can founders find their voice to communicate on behalf of their brand?

First, self-reflect on how best to articulate what your brand stands for.  Once you’re able to articulate that, you can use all of the tools at your disposal whether it be video interviews with bSmart or using platforms such as the usual Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  There are also things like, where you can write pieces on behalf of your organization, as well as the causes you support.  There are so many ways for you to articulate your brand.

What are the elements of a successful collaboration for strategic partners?

A partnership can be like a marriage where it takes two to tango, and it takes two to fall apart.  If the rules of engagement aren’t set forth from the start, if all players don’t realize they’re equally important in achieving the end goal, the partnership will deteriorate.  Plans must be set and you must define milestones throughout the course of the relationship engagement.  

I recommend having a road map of the success metrics you will be using.  Know in the beginning what you want the end to look like and over what period of time.  Ask yourself what’s going to tell you whether this partnership was a success over the weeks, months, or years of your partnership.  Use that as your goal, and work backwards from there.


Have a road map of the success metrics you will be using.


How can we be smart as business owners, investors, and global citizens?

When I look back on my founding years, I’m thankful for the words of wisdom passed to me from my late mother and late father.  My mom taught me early on: don't burn your bridges, which I have taken to heart my entire life.  She also taught me empathy and compassion, and she always said regardless of what happens, be good, be caring, and give back.   

My father had tremendous integrity.  I remember as a child when I wanted to stay home from school he would say to me, ‘Susan, if you want to stay home from school, that’s fine, but you need to call in and tell your teacher that you don't want to be there today’ because he didn't ever want to lie.  Integrity was drilled into me from my very early memories.  

Those are two frames of mind that shaped who I am today and probably explain why I run a business that is about social good and making the world a better place.  My advice to the men and women watching this video trying to figure out a roadmap or advice to get them motivated to move forward, is that nothing is a prison sentence, you can always make a change.  Be good.  Be empathetic.  Be compassionate.  Turn around and don’t forget to give that last person you just spoke with a hug,  as you never know when you might not see her again.


Regardless of what happens, be good, be caring, and give back.


Spotlight on Susan McPherson

Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights

Occupation: Founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies

Twitter: @susanmcp1

Instagram: @susanmcp1

Women I Admire:  Michelle Obama, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Lisa Witter, Jill Iscol, Beth Comstock, Gayle Lemmon, Sylvia Earle, Holly Gordon, Cindy Gallop, my sister, Nancy Spector and Susan Danziger.

Dream Mentor: Ruth Ann Harnisch

Ultimate Accessory: My pup, Phoebe

Favorite Store: Tango in Brooklyn Heights

Go-to Outfit: Summer shift dresses in bright vivid colors

Must-have Shoes: Having just had major foot surgery, my Mephistos or my Naots.

Favorite Nail Polish: FishNet by Essie

Signature Scent:  Lily by Commes Des Garcons

Beauty Essential:  La Prairie SPF Emulsion Skin Cream

Cocktail of Choice: Un-oaked Chardonnay from Oregon or France

Best Date: A long walk or a picnic in the park

Travel Destination: Sri Lanka or Laos

Current Craving:  My next vacation

Best Advice: My late mom: Never burn your bridges.  My late father: Don’t be afraid to take risks because nothing is a prison sentence (you can always pivot or make changes).

De-Stress Technique: Deep-breathing, cooking and time with friends

On My Playlist:  Hamilton all the time! And just discovered the band, TanLines

Favorite App: Twitter




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