Finding concrete ways to manage and measure business initiatives that contribute to social equity and to the development of the communities in which they operate (win-win strategies), have not been well explored up until now. Yet it is pivotal for companies to be able to utilise such tools in order to progress on these key aspects of sustainable development.
IMS-Entreprendre pour la Cité has further developed its audit tool to help companies in all sectors to measure and develop their social performance.
The tool is based on a standard developed following a year-long consultation process with member companies to identify best practices and indicators on social aspects of CSR. Development of the standard is part of a business-led programme that is driven by a dedicated working group, including 9 companies. The standard sets out a framework of policies, processes and practices across the key areas of:
- Corporate citizenship.
- Promotion of employment possibilities for disadvantaged or discriminated people (diversity in the workplace).
- Corporate contribution to local economic and social development.
- Responsible business and trade practices (adaptation of products/services to the needs of diverse groups…).
On the basis of this standard, but allowing for variations according to industry sectors/operations and business models, IMS has developed a questionnaire to collect data from companies on their social practices. The result is:
- An inventory of existing practices and indicators in the company.
- An overview of strengths and weaknesses, with suggestions of indicators to manage and measure social performance.
- Customised assistance to help companies prioritise and resolve their key social issues.
The tool has already been used by 4 companies (including 2 multinational companies) as part of their sustainable development strategy.
- Many topics (such as contribution to social development) are very difficult to measure - companies have to take into account the complexity of qualitative evaluation.
- Interviews need to be carried out with a panel of experts within the company in order to build questionnaires that can be understood by people from various cultural backgrounds (key areas of investigation and questions must be appropriately chosen).
- Thanks to the inventory, companies gain global visibility on their various social practices, which can be very different from one unit to another.
- Companies are able to define main points of improvement for their strategy towards external stakeholders.
- Companies can benchmark.
- The data can be utilised in the Group Sustainability Report.