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Measuring the socio-economic impact of business: The what, why and how
How can I articulate the benefits of measuring the socio-economic impact of my company?
Where can I find a simple, accessible overview of the terminology and theory in this space?
There are so many options! How can I select tools that suit my business’ needs?
These are some of the questions we faced here at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), raised by our members and partners who are grappling with the challenge of measuring and managing the socio-economic impacts of their companies.
Forward thinking business leaders increasingly understand the value of this practice, both to their businesses, and to the societies in which they operate. They are seeking to use the information gained to generate dialogue with governments and policymakers, to strengthen their operations, and to better engage and serve their customers and communities.
Unfortunately they are faced with a complex challenge – there are hundreds of existing tools and approaches, the majority of which are designed for the international development sector. This means many solutions on offer have different objectives, use technical terminology and theory which is unfamiliar to business managers, and are difficult to apply in a business environment.
Over the past few years, the Development team at WBCSD has been collecting the questions, opinions and experiences of our members. We decided to synthesize these insights into a guide intended as an accessible starting point for companies. We aim to demystify the practice of socio-economic impact measurement, and focus on solutions tailored to business needs.
The resulting guide helps businesses perform three essential tasks:
Of course, this is just a starting point. The landscape of tools is constantly evolving; therefore the guide is intended to be a living document, which we will continue to update as existing tools are improved and new ones emerge.
As the practice of socio-economic impact management gains momentum, we see two major opportunities for advancement within the business community:
Socio-economic impact and business success are closely intertwined, but today’s global challenges are too complex and systemic for one organization or sector to tackle alone. If socio-economic impact measurement can be integrated into business performance management and used to drive more effective collaboration, it will be fundamental to scaling up solid solutions to development and sustainability challenges.
WBCSD is keen to accelerate business efforts in this domain, and we look forward to generating discussion and action within the Business Fights Poverty community. How can we tackle this challenge together?
The guide is available for download at www.wbcsd.org/impact.aspx. In addition to the guide, the website features a 3-minute animated video (embedded above) and a slide show summarizing the content and main messages.
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