At COMPASS, we’re working to develop therapies for people who are suffering with serious mental health conditions. But how we achieve our mission is just as important to us: we aim to act responsibly in everything we do. Our impact strategy lays out our aspirations, focus areas, and the tangible actions we’re taking to create positive impact. Here we speak to Caitlin Simard, COMPASS’s Senior Impact Manager, to find out why she works in sustainability and social impact, and why it’s so important for companies to have an impact strategy.
Tell us about your background – how did you become interested in sustainability and social impact?
My mother is a social worker, so I was exposed very early on to social inequities and was inspired by her drive to make things better. I learnt that while life can be full of struggles, especially for vulnerable communities, change for the better is possible – it just takes patience, grit, and realistic optimism.
Why is it important for companies to have an impact strategy?
Our species is at a crossroads. We are using natural resources at a rate that is faster than nature can replenish. We are also seeing challenges in how we live our lives, as shown by increased loneliness and isolation, loss of community, mistrust, polarisation, and widening wealth gaps. If we don’t drastically change our ways of thinking, living and being, we risk endangering our own species. This may seem far out in the future, but the signals of change are already here – extreme weather events, agricultural disruptions, record numbers of wildlife extinction, etc. Companies can be role models by taking action to shift our mindsets and behaviours towards more sustainable ways of being.
Being socially conscious and responsible is simply the right thing to do. It’s about leaving things better than we found them. Companies have the resources, influence, and reach to bring about much needed change on pressing social issues like health disparities.
Companies that embrace sustainability on a strategic and operational level create long-term value beyond generating profits. Having a strong sustainability programme has been shown to help increase innovation and creativity, manage risk, drive revenue and cost efficiencies in the medium to long-term, attract and retain talent, and improve business continuity.
What impact initiative are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the many impact initiatives here at COMPASS that contribute to our mission. A highlight is our work on diversity, equity and inclusion in our therapist training programme. Our aspiration is to bring our therapies to anyone who may be helped by them. This is a big aspiration that requires education and deep self-reflection; it is important to understand the systems of oppression that stand in the way of so many people accessing care. Our therapist training is informed by an advisory group of practitioners that have experienced and understand the realities of marginalised communities. This group has been instrumental in enhancing our psychological support model (the support patients receive in our clinical trials of COMP360 psilocybin therapy), shaping our therapist training programme, and developing cultural humility training for our therapists, trainers, and internal team. Our advisors have helped us understand our own biases, and how to be mindful of our biases while developing our therapies.
Our vision is a world of mental wellbeing, what does that mean to you?
It’s a shared understanding that we are all connected through the web of life; for us to be truly well, our fellow human beings and all lifeforms must be well. It’s a world that provides the opportunity for all life to thrive and live to the very fullest. It means that mental wellbeing is addressed holistically on various levels: social wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and spiritual wellbeing. This includes access to quality education, housing, food, energy, green space, clean air, and clean water. In summary, true mental wellbeing goes hand in hand with social and environmental justice.