What gets measured gets done – WBCSD launches Measuring Impact Framework

By Shona Grant

What gets measured gets done – WBCSD launches Measuring Impact Framework

In the spring of 2006, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) embarked on a two-year journey to develop a framework to assess the contribution of business to the economic and broader development goals in the societies where business operates.

This grew out of a request by WBCSD member companies to develop a measurement framework that could underpin the license to operate, improve the quality of stakeholder engagement, help manage risks more effectively and identify ways to enhance the business contribution to society. Companies like Unilever, Vodafone and Anglo American, who had recently completed their own measurement tools or studies, were eager to explore common threads across sectors and build a common approach to measurement that would enhance the discussions on business impacts and role in society.

The resulting Measuring Impact Framework is designed to help companies understand their contribution to society and use this understanding to inform their operational and long-term investment decisions and have better-informed conversations with stakeholders.

The Framework includes 3 components: (1) the business case for measuring impacts entitled “Beyond the bottom line”, highlighting the experience of several WBCSD member companies; (2) a four-step methodology to identify, measure, assess, and manage impacts; (3) an Excel-based user guide that helps companies carry out an assessment.

Key features of the Framework:

  • Built by business for business – reflects the collaborative work of over 25 multinational companies over a 2-year period;
  • Grounded in what business does – based around activities and processes that companies do every day;
  • Moves beyond compliance – attempts to answer questions about what business contributes beyond traditional reporting;
  • Encourages stakeholder engagement – supports open dialogue with stakeholders to create a shared understanding of business impacts and societal needs, and to explore what business can and cannot do to address these needs;
  • Flexible – designed for any business and/or industry at any stage in its business cycle, operating anywhere in the world
  • Complements existing tools – makes use of what is already out there (for example, the Global Reporting Initiative and International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards);
  • Externally reviewed – reviewed by more than 15 stakeholders, ranging from non-governmental organizations to academia and government, including Oxfam, World Resources Institute, International Finance Corporation and Harvard University. The Framework is co-branded by the IFC who is currently deploying it with one of their private sector clients.

To access the Measuring Impact Framework (including the business case brief, methodology and user guide):http://www.wbcsd.org/web/measuringimpact.htm

The WBCSD and Business Action for Africa are currently exploring opportunities with their respective member companies to apply the Framework in Africa

For more information about the Framework, please contact Jessica Davis.

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