Looking to level up your social value? Don’t skip this critical first step

There are plenty of reasons you might be looking to level up your organisation’s social value. Perhaps it’s to meet upcoming reporting requirements such as the ISSB’s new standards or the EU’s CSRD. Maybe you’re under increasing pressure from consumers, buyers, or investors to keep scaling your environmental and social impact. Or you might just want to become a more sustainable, ethical business simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Whatever your motivation, knowing where to start is often the hardest part. You know what you hope to achieve with your social value long-term, but how do you go about bringing that to life? In our view, there’s one critical step you can’t afford to skip.

And that’s building a baseline understanding of exactly where you are right now.

Task 1: Take stock

Before you move forward on your social value journey, you need to check in with all the great work you’re already doing. Take the time to build a baseline understanding of your organisation’s social value. This way, your next steps follow on logically from what you’re already achieving, rather than being decided in a vacuum.

To recognise what the future of your organisation’s impact should look like, you first need to visualise the present.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, thinking you have so far to go before you reach your long-term targets or goals. But by first recognising all the hard work you and your suppliers are already doing, you might realise that where you want to be isn’t that far from where you already are. This could have unintended benefits. If you didn’t know how sustainable you were, for instance, you may set goals that are too low. But by identifying where you currently are, your target can be higher and more accurate.

Task 2: Accurately gauge progress

Social value is all about demonstrating an ongoing commitment to doing right by people, communities, and the planet. It’s about identifying and acting upon every opportunity to be a better business.

Your goal is to show consistent progress and development. But this is impossible if you have no benchmark to compare future performance against.

When introducing new initiatives and services, you need something to monitor their performance against. Otherwise, how will you know if they’re actually adding anything to your overall environmental and social impact? How will you prove that you’re a more ethical, impactful business today than you were yesterday – or five years ago? 

You should be able to compare how a new approach surpasses the last. This is another reason to track where you are currently – so you can see the improvement in the future. Since increasing volunteer hours across your workforce, how much additional value have you generated for local charities and causes? Since switching suppliers, how and where have scope 3 emissions decreased and/or increased?

Task 3: Identify areas for improvement

By building a baseline understanding of where your organisation is performing well – and where there’s perhaps room for improvement – you can create a more informed social value strategy that reflects where your operations currently are.

You can’t improve what you don’t know. Performing a deep dive into your current social value approach will highlight any gaps in your processes or understanding.

Maybe you’re smashing net-zero targets but are lagging behind on local employment. Rather than throwing new initiatives into the mix blindly, taking the time to understand this will make it much easier to recognise what those next steps should be.

This goes for specific themes or outcomes you might be overlooking, as well as opportunities to refine your data management and social value reporting. If you find your existing data isn’t reflective of your social value efforts, you’ll know to invest time and resources into your approach. This way, you can ensure you capture reliable data to reflect your full impact.

If you’re looking to improve or expand your organisation’s impact, this is one step you can’t afford to miss. Understanding your current capacity, awareness, and performance in terms of social value is critical to scaling your efforts in a more successful, informed way. It will make it far easier to decide what your strategy should look like, which initiatives you should invest in, and any tools that are needed to carry your efforts forward.

Impact makes capturing, evaluating and reporting all your sustainability, social value, or ESG data a breeze. It’s never been easier to visualise data across your supply chain and make informed decisions to maximise your organisation’s positive impact. To find out more about our cloud-based social value software, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.