Published: Mon, Feb 25, 2013
Type: Publication

Business is a major driver of socio-economic impact – and socio-economic impact is a major predictor of business success, especially in the long term.

By creating jobs, training workers, building physical infrastructure, procuring raw materials, transferring technology, paying taxes, and expanding access to products and services ranging from food and healthcare to energy and information technology, companies affect people’s assets, capabilities, opportunities, and standards of living – sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. And because these people are companies’ employees, customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and neighbors, their growth and well-being matters to the bottom line. It influences whether or not companies have happy customers, healthy value chains, contented local communities, and supportive governments and other stakeholders now and into the future.

As a result, companies are increasingly interested in measuring their socio-economic impact for a variety of reasons, ranging from reducing cost and risk to creating and capturing new opportunities. These reasons include the following:

The WBCSD is keen to accelerate business efforts in this domain. Scaling up business solutions to sustainability challenges will not happen without a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t – and having sound measurement systems in place is fundamental to obtaining this insight.

We have developed two main tools to help business get started. The WBCSD Measuring Impact Framework, launched in 2008, was developed in collaboration with over 20 WBCSD member companies. It is designed to help companies understand their contribution to society and use this understanding to inform their operational and long-term investment decisions, and have better conversations with stakeholders. 

The Measuring socio-economic impact: A guide for business is intended to help companies navigate the complex landscape of socio-economic impact measurement, and select the options that work best for their business.

And this is just the beginning; at the WBCSD we see two major opportunities to move forward:

  • Integrating socio-economic impact measurement into business performance management and reporting
  • Using socio-economic impact measurement to drive more effective collaboration between business, government, and civil society. 

For more information about how WBCSD is progressing in these areas, please get in touch with the Social Impact team.