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Measuring, valuing, and managing a company’s social impacts: A call for collaboration

Geneva, June 1, 2015 – The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) envisions a world where the long-term environmental and social performance of a business is reflected in its success alongside financial indicators. Businesses depend on people as employees, customers, suppliers, retailers, governors and neighbors, and are inextricably connected to the societies within which they operate. Their interactions with society can have significant consequences and must be taken into consideration when measuring and valuing a company’s overall performance. 

The WBCSD has been guiding companies in the practice of socio-economic impact measurement since 2008 with the launch of the Measuring Impact Framework, one of the first frameworks in this field tailored to business. In the following years, a great number of tools and frameworks have emerged, and Measuring Socio-economic Impact: A guide for Business helps companies navigate this space.

Despite the significant number of tools available for social impact measurement, businesses are struggling to identify fit-for-purpose approaches that will enable the use of social information to inform strategy and decision-making. They are seeking to move towards credible and broadly-accepted approaches which will allow them to:

  • Clarify best practice for social performance measurement and management,
  • Inform appropriate action throughout their operations and supply chains to drive social performance,
  • Improve their credibility by providing a solid foundation for communicating and disclosing their social impact.

In light of the above, today we are launching a position paper proposing the development of a harmonized approach for businesses to measure and value their interactions with society: A Social Capital Protocol.

As part of the WBCSD’s Redefining Value program, the development of a Social Capital Protocol aims to bring together and align current expertise in measurement and valuation. Therefore, we are providing a platform to kick-start collaboration.

The paper outlines the need for action, introduces WBCSD’s use of the term Social Capital, and identifies the components needed within a Social Capital Protocol. It highlights the significant advances companies are making in the field of measurement and valuation, featuring examples from Alliance Trust, ArcelorMittal, BT, DSM, Holcim, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, Lafarge, Masisa, Nestlé, PWC, SABMiller, SCA, Schneider Electric, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa, and Veolia.

The paper also profiles initial partners and experts who have already committed to contribute to the protocol’s development including The B Team, CIRAIG, The Global Impact Investing Network, The Grameen Foundation, IFC, the Initiative for Global Development, the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, The Social Return on Investment Network, and the William Davidson Institute.

With this paper, we are calling upon organizations, experts and practitioners, across all sectors and disciplines, to join us in consolidating these efforts. This must be a collaborative initiative to build the critical mass necessary to ensure a legitimate and broadly accepted result for companies, shareholders and stakeholders.

Join us in transforming the way we do business.

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