How to innovate for social impact?

Why and how are companies developing and integrating business solutions with social impact into their core business? What are the successes and failures of early movers? What are some of the strategic considerations to keep in mind?

Published: 16 Feb 2016
Type: News

Geneva, 16 February 2016: These are the key questions addressed in a report launched today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Deloitte. The aim of the report, titled License to Innovate: Breakthrough Strategies for Social Impact, is to encourage more companies to actively pursue social innovation as a means to achieve greater long term sustainability, financial growth, and social impact.

The report introduces the business case around why companies are pursuing strategies for growth through social impact, as well as five strategies for how they are working towards this ambitious goal:

  • Invest in external solutions: Invest to advance external solutions already demonstrating profitability and impact
  • Engage a network: Engage in networked problem solving to identify and test possible solutions to scale
  • Accelerate externally: Secure external services to accelerate the solution development
  • Sandbox solutions: Advance internally developed solutions into a viable proof of concept through a shared proving ground
  • Innovate in-house: Advance a pipeline of solutions fully in-house

Unsurprisingly, crafting offerings that deliver a new kind of value, in some cases to a new segment of consumers, is not without its challenges. The report provides an honest look at both the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy, as well as considerations that companies should weigh in determining their overall readiness for taking action.  

In the foreword to the report, David Cruikshank, Global Chairman, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD, write: “The WBCSD and its members, Deloitte among them, recognize that collaborative problem solving will be a critical part of how companies redefine the value they provide to society and innovate to solve global challenges. Developed well, these new business solutions may enable companies to better manage their risks, anticipate consumers’ demand, build positions in growth markets, secure access to needed resources, and strengthen their supply chains.”

The report was produced by the WBCSD’s Social Impact Cluster and Deloitte's Social Impact practice with inputs from BASF, CEMEX, Citi, DIVA, DSM, Firmenich, The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, Masisa, Novartis, Novozymes, Pearson, PepsiCo, Philips, Santander Group, Schneider Electric, The Toilet Board Coalition, and Tata.

Webinar on March 9
The WBCSD and Deloitte will co-host a webinar in view of sharing the highlights of this report. Save the date: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. New York City time / 4:00 p.m. Geneva time. Please drop us a short note to sign up for the webinar.

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