As Dr. Samuel Myers, a principal research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and the founder of the Planetary Health Alliance writes, “These disruptions in the atmosphere, oceans, and across the terrestrial land surface are not only driving species to extinction, they pose serious threats to human health and wellbeing.” Mining companies, for example, often dump toxic mining waste in nearby streams rather than incurring costs to safely dispose of it. Instead, local communities are left to pay, as the waste ultimately contributes to increased poverty, cancer, birth defects, and other problems. Society must also absorb the costs of climate change and mercury pollution from burning coal.

At the same time, racism, income inequality, distrust, and political polarization are corroding the delicate network of collective social and governance commons. Business can compound these issues. The real estate industry’s discriminatory housing practices, for example, have significantly contributed to the racial wealth gap. And it’s well known that many social media companies’ algorithms have amplified racism, misinformation, polarization, and distrust, undermining support for initiatives that seek to improve the common good. As with climate change, solving inequality requires collective agreement, and when people view each other as contemptible, that’s difficult to achieve.

These environmental and social issues not only generate significant stresses on businesses (including their employees, customers, and suppliers), but also create an extraordinarily uncertain environment in which to plan and operate. So while businesses have played a significant role in creating issues, they also have the motivation and capacity to heal them. The time calls for businesses to re-imagine their role in society, conceive of a better future, and model the transformation they seek. Rather than maximizing returns through the degradation of the commons, companies need to optimize their activities by regenerating the commons.

After much exploration of these frameworks and rating systems, and my own efforts to guide my company toward becoming a more regenerative force, I produced a new framework I believe can help social entrepreneurs make their organizations more regenerative. At its core, it proposes that regenerative businesses have seven main attributes: an integrative world view, or paradigm; a systems-enhancing purpose; products that address the fundamental needs of society; products made with environmentally and socially responsible processes; a life-enhancing relationship with its people; thriving partnerships and networks; and regenerative use of its profits. Here’s a closer look at each of these attributes.

Read the full article about regenerative practices by Jonathan F.P. Rose at Stanford Social Innovation Review.