Last week, we went back to basics, breaking down the terminology associated with CSR, social value, and social impact. This week, we’re going one step further to explore what actually makes a business socially valuable.
What exactly is the difference between doing a few good things for society and being an ongoing socially valuable business?
A lot of it is down to intent
We mentioned last week that social value sits at the very heart of a company. It’s a conscious goal to have a positive impact on people, society, and the environment. It’s not an afterthought used to boost your organisation’s reputation or investment potential.
Increasing your social value should represent a marked shift in your long-term strategies. It won’t happen in a silo, but will tie into every aspect of operations – finances, daily processes, and future growth. A want to create additional value for people and the planet should become an integral aspect of running the business, in equal standing with maximising profits and productivity.
Address problems bigger than your business
Consumers and investors alike want businesses that care about more than themselves. As such, your organisation’s social value efforts should be about so much more than just your business and its profitability.
71% of Americans believe companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues. And 56% say companies that do not talk about social justice issues in their marketing are out of touch. It’s a similar case here in the UK, with 42% percent of consumers saying brands’ support of environmental, social, or political causes is becoming more or much more important to their purchasing decisions.
Let’s look at COVID-19 as an example. A third of respondents feel marketers should only advertise if they’ve taken direct action to address the current situation. People want businesses who respond to the world’s most pressing concerns and are doing their part on the local level to support recovery efforts. The initiatives you carry out should respond directly to the most pressing concerns found in your local area, community, and – if possible – wider society.
Issues such as in-house diversity and ethical supply chains are great ways to demonstrate social value, but businesses also need to be thinking more strategically about where they can best deliver the most impactful change. For example, a construction business might look to employ X amount of local apprentices in a year, use X amount of local suppliers, or make sure their suppliers are always paid on-time as a means of supporting their local economy’s COVID-19 recovery.
You can measure and report your impact
Socially valuable businesses should be able to show the ongoing progress and success of their initiatives clearly. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you can’t outline your impact and progress, are you making any?
Evidencing your impact holds your business accountable, enables others to visualise your impacts, and helps inform data-driven decision-making that keeps you doing even more.
In places like the public sector, evidencing the social value of projects forms an essential part of the procurement process. Impact measurement and reporting proves essential to keeping suppliers accountable to their commitments and ensuring you generate the maximum amount of value in every project. Without this, there would be no way to guarantee any social value is actually being delivered.
Measuring your impact also ensures the good your business does for others also positively affects the business itself. All the data and insights you gather on your social value can tie into your marketing strategies, reports for shareholders, or investor packs.
Recognising the impact your efforts are having and evaluating them through gathering evidence, you can identify and demonstrate all the positive progress, negative changes, and any room for improvement.
Especially in a post-COVID-19 world, transparency will be everything. 85% of consumers are more likely to stick by a business if they have a history of being transparent. The more you can prove, the better.
Your impact is part of a wider intentional strategy
While the unintentional, positive impacts you make are amazing, accidentally having an impact doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a socially valuable business. It just means you’re doing some things right. If you’re looking to take your organisation’s social value more seriously, you need to be incorporating it into the very fabric of your organisation.
In socially valuable businesses, people, planet, and profits are all interconnected and equally valued. In some cases, social impact weighs even more than profits ever will. You just need to look at the B Corp certification. It’s given to businesses who balance purpose and profit, proving a commitment to social and environmental performance.
Your initiatives shouldn’t be one and done. They should be part of a scalable, ongoing, long-term strategy to boost impact alongside business growth.
Becoming a more socially valuable business represents an intentional shift. While all social impact is valuable, the best businesses are those who take their responsibility to the next level. In our next blog, we’ll be laying out examples of social value, guiding you on potential initiatives and how to identify what matters most to your individual organisation.
At Impact, we empower businesses to do even more with their CSR and social value. Our simple, intuitive platform makes measuring, analysing, and reporting on your impact easy, allowing you to go even further. If you have any questions, or are interested in a demo, get in touch on 0161 532 4752.