Top tips for measuring social value

In corporate sustainability, it is commonly known that social impacts are as important as environmental impacts, especially for a just transition to a more sustainable world.

However, we often find that social impacts can be overlooked and belittled – whether because they are difficult to measure or challenging for some stakeholders to understand. In this article, we share our top tips for measuring and reporting social value in a meaningful way so that your organisation can showcase its positive contributions to society.

1. Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy and purpose.

Whatever your business model, if you want to make a positive impact on society, you must be able to do this with a purpose and clear direction. Positive outcomes that are a direct result of your business’s activities are a win-win for your company and its stakeholders. If you are creating a social impact programme that sits alongside your core business offering, make sure that you understand your desired outcomes. Understand the long-term change you want to create, the steps you need to take to get there, and any intended and unintended outcomes of this journey.

2. Define metrics you can use to measure your impact

This step is especially important to show your stakeholders the impact you are making, in terms that are clear for them to understand. There are many different metrics you can use to measure your impact and you should make sure they are relevant to your business. Volunteering hours and financial donations are a minimum standard if you wish to demonstrate impact. Additional metrics that companies could consider are:

  • Number of suppliers hired from the local area
  • Number of jobs created
  • Amount of biodiversity gained in the area
  • Number of people who are positively impacted by a project

Using metrics such as these will show your stakeholders that you are serious about social value, and will help you track your progress and focus your efforts year on year, as well as add credibility to your projects. You can also use common measurement frameworks such as cost-benefit analysis and Social Return on Investment which are widely recognised in the sustainability world.3.

3. Remember, measuring social value is an art and a science

Whilst we do believe it is important to capture the quantitative outputs of your social value, this only tells part of the story. People are at the heart of society and should be at the heart of your social value story too. Engaging with stakeholders to understand how your business has impacted them, and conveying these narratives in your reporting, is an important part of measuring and reporting on social value. Speaking directly to people in the local community through focus groups and interviews, as well as conducting broader surveys, are good ways to understand the value your business is providing, and how it can be improved if needed.

If you would like help measuring and reporting on social value, please feel free to get in touch: