Throughout this month, we have broken down the terminology surrounding social impact and explored what we believe makes a business socially valuable. But from here, how do you actually set the ball rolling on making an impact?
Today, we are going to discuss how your organisation can get started operating with more responsibility, purpose, and creating the most value. And not only this, but targeting your efforts to all the areas that mean the most to your individual organisation.
The UN SDGs
The UN SDGs are 17 sustainable development goals that came into action in 2015. Operating in a range of areas of society, they are a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030”. They are one of the most recognised global efforts for sustainable development.
Using the SDGs can help shape your organisation’s approach to social impact, even if you are not strictly following the framework. Aligning your initiatives, CSR, or social value strategy with them will help keep your organisation’s efforts in line with wider global change and goals. It is a way to guarantee you’re following the lead of global governments and bodies.
Using a framework – whether it is this one or another – helps demonstrate an organisation is serious and committed to making a difference. It ensures your organisation is keeping up with wider society.
The 17 UN SDGs are far-reaching enough to enable individual organisations to find initiatives that work for them. While it is a framework you could follow, there is also plenty of room to scale and adapt it to suit your individual requirements.
Identifying what is material
Materiality matrices help to uncover what activities would be most beneficial for your organisation. They allow you to get your priorities in order before you make any decisions about your initiatives or strategy. You can ensure you are fully informed on what matters most to your business before you begin.
We recommend businesses create new matrices every year – even if on the surface it doesn’t feel as if much has changed. To minimise wasted time, resources, or unsuccessful initiatives, you need to be as informed as possible.
A materiality matrix is a graph that will identify what is most important to you, your staff, the local area, investors, or shareholders. It also helps you recognise what data is most valuable to analyse and report on.
As well as using a matrix, you could also start by looking at some of the most pressing issues in society today. Namely, the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a year of turbulent racial relations. Greater Manchester’s refreshed framework for social value serves as a great example of how businesses can best respond to the times.
Whether you look at the inequalities exposed across different communities or the persistent, systemic racism that underlies society both nationally and globally, this year has given us all a lot to think about. And consumers are putting a lot of pressure on businesses to be a key advocate of all this systemic change.
For example, 74% of respondents felt the way brands responded to this year’s Black Lives Matter protests were key to whether they would do business with them again. And 70% think the coronavirus pandemic will force companies to act more responsibly in the long-term. As such, initiatives that look to reduce inequalities and tackle unemployment and financial instability will be hugely influential over the coming months and years.
Examples of strategies/initiatives
The wider world of CSR can be broken down into three core categories: economic, environmental, and social. We’ve put together some specific examples of initiatives within each of these categories, along with how they might link back to the UN SDGs.
- Local employment strategies and targets (SDGs 1, 3, 8, 10, 11)
- Work-experience/training opportunities for high-risk/low-income individuals (SDGs 8, 10, 11, 16)
- Staff volunteering in local, struggling businesses/nonprofits or mentoring opportunities (SDGs 4, 8, 11, 16)
- Monetary donations to local organisations, charities, or those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting ongoing recovery (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- Boosting diversity across your workforce and supply chain and/or improving labour policies to promote staff wellbeing, fair treatment, and inclusivity (SDGs 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- Reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint and minimising waste (SDGs 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15)
- Creating more sustainable, environmental corporate policies (SDGs 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15)
- Requiring similar commitments from all partners and suppliers (SDGs 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15)
- Prioritising local supply chains and partnerships (SDGs 11, 12, 15)
- Monetary donations to environmentally focused charities and nonprofit organisations (SDGs 6, 7, 13, 14, 15)
- Staff volunteering initiatives in local charities and nonprofits – you can boost engagement by allowing your workforce to help choose the list of chosen organisations (SDGs will depend on the nature of the organisations you choose)
- Supporting local culture and heritage (SDGs 9, 11)
- Hosting community events – mentoring, training, or work-experience opportunities (SDGs 3, 4, 5, 8, 10)
- Establish ongoing partnerships with homeless, LGBTQ+, women’s rights, or any other such charity (SDGs will depend on the nature of the organisations you choose)
- Helping your specific community in their post-COVID recovery (SDGs 1, 3, 8, 10, 11)
Though, as we mentioned, the UN’s SDGs are merely a jumping off point. There are various other frameworks available to guide you, some of which are more suited to certain industries. Ones that are more complex and targeted in their approach.
But, for now, hopefully we have given you some food for thought and inspiration for growing your organisation’s efforts in the new year.
Impact Reporting makes CSR, social value, and sustainability reporting simple. Whether you are just getting started or want a more streamlined approach to monitoring your impact, our intuitive platform ensures all the data you need is at your fingertips. If you have any questions, or are interested in a demo, get in touch on 0161 532 4752.