Originally published in the Delaware Chamber of Commerce September/October issue of Delaware Business Magazine.
Diverse Supplier Spotlight: Social Contract
Why stick to the status quo when you can re-write it? It’s easy for communities to become comfortable with the behaviors and policies that they deem “normal,” yet as time progresses and issues become apparent, change must not just be encouraged but enacted. Topics like trauma-informed care, diversity and inclusion, workforce development, gun violence, affordable housing, and environmental justice are all pressing issues in recent years that businesses, governments, and communities are highly focused on. Social Contract, a women and minority-owned social and collective impact consulting firm, strives to facilitate change in these important policy areas.
The idea of a social contract is not a new one, with the term dating back to the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century. Famous philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes wrote about social contract theory involving the rights of government over man, the “state of nature” and societal norms, all of which were new—and somewhat controversial— thoughts. Wilmington-based Social Contract founded their consulting firm in 2017 with a similar idea. “We’re all about re-writing the status quo,” explains Managing Partner Ron Berry. “We do this by helping the community solve complex problems through a collaborative approach.”
Many companies or local governments have an idea for social change in place, but don’t have the means to connect the dots between various stakeholders and generate actionable items to make it happen. This is Social Contract’s sweet spot, whose team helps to create concrete plans to engage the community, break down silos between sectors, integrate research, and develop partnerships and funding streams to sustain new initiatives.
Social Contract’s diverse staff helps guide clients through five stages of change: from discovery, design, implementation, and measurement, to sustainability. “One thing to make clear is that we’re not an advocacy organization,” says Meghan Wallace, founding partner. “But we do like to say that we advocate for the best practice. We can see who has successfully tackled a problem in the past, expand or adapt those practices, and build toward community impact with our clients.”
Social Contract is behind a lot of the work led by Governor John Carney and his wife Tracey on addressing and healing trauma within the state. With the help of Social Contract, the governor’s office signed Order 24 in 2018, setting course for Delaware to become a trauma informed state and now a national example in trauma-informed care.
Tracey Quillen Carney, first lady of Delaware, reflected, “Social Contract was brought in to help the Family Services Cabinet Council organize these things from the state and government perspective, and also to help the private sector and the nonprofit sector, to bring everybody together, rowing in the same direction on this initiative…The whole idea is to get people out of silos, and get
everyone who deals with children and families talking to each other, knowing what each other is doing, sharing objectives….and Social Contract coming in as an agent of structure, all that together, got us going.” While much of their efforts were done behind the scenes, this vital work could not have been done without the help of the Social Contract team.
Change-makers: that’s what the staff at Social Contract are. Each year since 2017, the team has doubled in size, a true testament to the success and the positive company culture fostered within the organization.
We live in a divisive time. It seems like people disagree on everything at times. But according to Meghan Wallace, there’s a silver lining. “There’s a lot of things people agree on, right? And that’s a good starting point.” she remarks. After all, while change is a constant, it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of hard work to make it happen, and Social Contract is truly leading the way.