Knowledge Centre

CSR 101-Don’t be Dumb! Measure, Manage and Report

#Measure | #Manage | #Report: Management fundamentals that are nearly universally accepted and applied by successful businesses and organizations worldwide. Except in #CSR #Sustainability and #SDGs impact. That’s just dumb, and costs them value, impact and competitive advantage.
Each year businesses spend millions of dollars on social responsibility and sustainability efforts with questionable results and without applying the sort of management discipline used to evaluate other investments. This is negligent and wasteful . It costs them in lost value, missed impact, and squandered budgets and opportunities.
In conversations with leaders and managers around the world, it seems there is both a confusion and a resistance to actually applying basic business principles. And this is for a line item that is only going to grow size and importance over the coming years. It is often unclear in leader’s minds that they have a right, daresay a responsibility, to measure and manage social responsibility projects the same way as other areas of business operations.
When challenged it frequently becomes clear that they feel applying modern management practices and managing for value [yes, including business value] will somehow cheapen what they are doing. Deep down many view social responsibility and sustainability as activities that should be seen as selfless and any attempt to manage them for value will somehow detract from that image.
They couldn’t be more wrong. Effective management systems- including measuring impacts and strategic reporting and communications – will only enhance social value, impact and sustainability. And it has the added benefit of creating business value and impact at the same time.
Treating sustainability and social responsibility programs as something that shouldn’t be managed with the same discipline and responsibility for results diminishes them and takes away from their overall value and impact.
Early attention to impact measurement can form the foundation of an effective management and reporting system for CSR and Sustainability budgets and programs. This produces more value and impact, for society. And for business.
A well-designed impact measurement framework will not only enable more efficient management but will also help with stakeholder engagement and enable effective reporting and communication (internally and externally).
An impact measurement framework should be simple and include metrics related to social value, business value and include metrics around key value propositions related to important stakeholders. I did a recent post, CSR Metrics: Measure and Manage the Meaningful that discusses this in more detail.
Involving stakeholders [including internal stakeholders] when developing the impact measurement framework adds the benefit of their wisdom and insights, and also helps to facilitate their engagement and buy-in on the project itself.
Reporting and communication are also keys to success. It is critical to managing effectively and, if done strategically, can strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders and add considerable business value. Our knowledge centre has a number of posts on communication and reporting.
Sustainability communications should be strategic, focused and easily accessed and consumed.
Sustainability Reports are becoming de-facto requirements for modern businesses; and are increasingly required by regulators, B2B customers, investors and others.
The importance of CSR and Sustainability, along with the importance of impact measurement, reporting and communications will only grow in the coming years. Now is the time to get it right and set your business up for success going forward.
Impact measurement, sustainability reporting and communication go together to form the foundation of an effective management process that enables business to be more effective and efficient at turning CSR and Sustainability budgets into value and impact; business and social value and impact. Done strategically and consistently they create a competitive advantage that can drive success and open new opportunities.
We periodically offer Masterclasses on these topics.  Whether you can make it to the Masterclasses or not, I encourage you to focus on how impact measurement and sustainability reporting and communication can enhance value and impact. Make sure your CSR and Sustainability budgets connect directly to business value as well as to social impact and environmental stewardship. Check out the free resources we provide: Written and/or Video
As always if you have any questions about this article or would like to know more about how we can help your organization realize the benefits of CSR to your future business growth, please send me an email.

Prof. Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global sustainability expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and advisory service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.