How Lyft is Transforming Transportation Access: A Conversation with Lisa Boyd

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In the latest episode of “Changemakers from Within,” Rachel sits down with Lisa Boyd, Director of Social Impact at Lyft. Listen to learn about the way social impact is weaved throughout Lyft’s mission as a company, and the way their programs have transformed transportation access, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Integrating Impact

We all know social impact is more than just a job title – it’s integrated throughout a company’s  mission and actions. Lyft embodies that understanding on a whole new scale. It was built on the idea that limiting car usage and reinventing cities to focus on people could get people more connected while helping the environment.

These community-centered ideas have been the foundation of Lyft all along, so working social impact into the company’s daily operations is inherent. Lisa explains how her policy team works cross-functionally with other teams at the company to ensure that not only are the social impact projects being built up, but also that the work Lyft is doing does not exist in a vacuum:

“We work with our Investor Relations team, to make sure all of our work is highlighted via our environmental, social and governance reporting, in the way that we’re communicating out to investors. We work with other folks on our policy team to ensure that elected officials understand the work that we are doing on the ground in their specific communities. We work with our marketing team to make sure our riders and our drivers are well aware of all the work we do with our people teams to make sure our employees know about it, etc.

The Gift of Lyft

It’s an environment like the one Lisa describes that truly weaves impact within and throughout the DNA of a company. In the past year, we’ve all seen how transportation access is a game-changer. Over at Lyft, they know this problem isn’t anything new. Enter LyftUp: Lyft’s transportation access initiative that provides ride credits to nonprofit partners who can then distribute the credits to those in need of transportation.

Lisa explains that the program empowers those who know their communities best serve them the most – Lyft isn’t part of the decision of who receives credits from their nonprofit partners. Rather, they let the organizations themselves who are familiar with the communities handle distribution, which in turn helps Lyft better understand the needs of those they are serving.

Multiple programs fall under the LyftUp umbrella, from voting access to job access to bike access and more. Lisa categorizes some of these as long-standing issues (such as grocery access), whereas others are disaster responses, like vaccine access during the rollout of the past few months.

Lisa tells the story of Lenny, who was able to get a job as a full-time, overnight concierge through Goodwill’s hospitality training program at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and was able to utilize LyftUp when public transportation began to shut down:

“We provided him with free ride credit to get to and from his new job, and he was able to retain that throughout the COVID pandemic. We’re just really proud of a lot of circumstances like that, where we were able to have a tangible impact on someone being able to get and or actually retain a job at a time, especially during the pandemic, when that was especially tough.”

Interested in more details on the partnerships mentioned above? Read Lyft’s social impact blog posts here, or read more about LyftUp here.

Being a Vehicle for Change

One challenge Lisa has faced in her time at Lyft is determining where the company can make the greatest impact. Since her team can’t take on every amazing transportation access project nonprofits think of, they try to be strategic and use the evidence they have to take on projects that will do the most good.

In fact, part of Lisa’s ten year vision for Lyft is building up research that measures the effectiveness of programs like LyftUp to then take large-scale action. She uses the example of healthcare – if research shows that transportation access can improve health, that could incentivize change in the insurance industry. The other part of her vision? Further Lyft’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) work:

“I want us to continue to be a leader in the ESG space, and to be even more transparent, set more ambitious goals around both our environmental and our social work, and to continue to kind of drive the sector forward in terms of being a values driven company, and really showing that throughout our entire business.”

Image Courtesy of Lyft

For those looking to break into the space, Lisa’s advice is to consider and utilize what role you can play in a values-driven business. Most jobs within a company may seem separate from social impact, but if you are working from an “impact-oriented lens,” as Lisa describes it, you can help integrate philanthropy into any aspect of a business, especially at companies like Lyft that are founded on ideals of community and building a better world. Changemaker isn’t a job title – it’s an ethos.

Listen to the full episode below for more on Lisa’s story and the work she does at Lyft.