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CCEG SOCIAL VALUE & INTANGIBLES REVIEW consumption and carbon emissions from a factory, or the production of harmful products such as cigarettes, or the dissemination of false news on social media sites. The list goes on. The effects are very real and there is no reason why their overall impact should not also be assessed. So how do we actually approach the measurement of social value? There are various ways to do so. One approach is to develop an impact framework that can be applied across all the projects, initiatives and activities of a business. This approach has worked for our clients at thirdbridge, including The Crown Estate and Diageo. The framework is structured around a set of overriding social and environmental goals, each with its own set of common metrics. These could include improving access to clean water, promoting sustainable agriculture, promoting gender equality or empowering women. Measuring vague notions like ‘reducing environmental impact’ or ‘supporting our local community’ is hard.

Specific objectives are measurable and give a focus to every activity and decision; they make it possible to link everything a company does back to the

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and ask the difficult questions. How do our products and services contribute to society? How do our activities impact upon people or the environment? What potential harm do our products cause? Which groups are impacted by our activities? What do our stakeholders care about? In sustainability circles this is sometimes framed as a materiality assessment. But it’s not enough to just identify the environmental, social and governance issues that might affect your business. You need to consider what positive impacts you are actively seeking to achieve as a business.

over-riding social and environmental goals.

Social value measurement is not an exact science –

This facilitates a culture and attitude change in the organisation. It also allows a company to create a rolled-up view of their social impact, and the resulting social value, because every project/initiative or activity is associated with one or more of the overriding goals.

it is an evolving discipline.

So how do you get started? The starting point for any measurement approach is the end. What are you trying to achieve? What are the objectives? Considering your overarching purpose can help, but shouldn’t restrict you too much. You should take into account your company values and wider strategic aims too.

In conclusion, this is a journey, but one that can help you to achieve your purpose There is no one way to measure and report social value, and the intricacies of how to do this warrant an article (or entire magazine!) of their own. But you have to start somewhere. First, define the specific social and environmental goals that you want to achieve. Then, clarify the positive impact you want to have. Finally, place this within an over-arching framework. This will help to put social value in context for your stakeholders. It will also give you a structure within which to make decisions. Regardless of how you approach it, all organisations should consider how the creation of social value relates to their purpose. Will achieving your objectives and creating the subsequent social value prove your purpose? If not, then perhaps you need to change your purpose, or your business.

thirdbridge make it easy for companies to do good and report on it. They provide online software that makes it easy for companies to connect with charities, involve and engage employees in their initiatives, and report their social impact. | @thethirdbridge

February 2017


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Social Value and Intangibles Review February 2017  

CCEG Social Value & Intangibles Review (SVIR) – February 2017 Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance journal on Social Impact and...

Social Value and Intangibles Review February 2017  

CCEG Social Value & Intangibles Review (SVIR) – February 2017 Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance journal on Social Impact and...

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