CEO Breakfast: Your key takeaways on social impact measurement
Measuring sustainability and social impact is key for companies to achieve scalable change. The CEO Breakfast kickstarted CREATIVE COLLISION with an in-depth conversation on this crucial topic around Vanessa Cheung, Nan Fung Group, Mark Kramer, co-founder of shared value, joining virtually from Boston, and Michael Green, Social Progress Imperative, online from London. Check out their main takeaways and insights.
Photo by Vincent Tsoi, We Image Productions
The missing link between social and financial performance
Harvard Business School’s Mark Kramer, the co-founder of shared value, believes the social impact measurement, integrated into accounting, plays a crucial role in driving positive impact:
- “According to the World Benchmarking Alliance which tracks the progress of 2,000 global companies towards the SDGs, the corporate world does not move fast enough from a negative to a positive social and environmental impact.
- The reason why is that those companies still think about environmental and social issues, or ESG performance, as a matter of compliance and reporting, and perhaps as a matter of reputation. They are not therefore able to show investors and management how delivering on social and environmental impact makes a difference to their bottom line and competitive advantage.
- What companies fundamentally must do is link their social-environmental performance to their economic-financial performance, whether it’s through the Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative of George Serafeim, Harvard Business School, or some other mechanism.
- Only when that link becomes clear, companies will move at a much faster pace than they are currently moving, towards improving their social and environmental performance.”
The corporate contribution to social progress
Read here the key insights from Michael Green, CEO of Social Progress Imperative:
- “For 10 years now, the Social Progress Imperative has been a collaboration in the social innovation space, including foundations and strong corporate partnerships, all under the intellectual guidance of Michael Porter, Harvard Business School.
- Economic growth – often, but not always – is linked to better lives. Conversely, long-term economic success is a product of strong social foundations.
- According to the Social Progress Index which measures the social progress in the territories, the world is improving, but the rate of progress has slowed by nearly half. Some countries are better to turn economic growth into social progress than others, not only because of their public policies but also thanks to the structure of their economies.
- We too often downplay corporate contributions to social progress in terms of corporate philanthropy and CSR. Some companies – for instance, mobile phone companies – have made a huge positive impact on societies.
- The more we can understand the blockages in our societies, the more we can unpick some of the productive potentials. As data has this power, we aim to bring to the social side some of the rigor that has been along on the financial side.”
Nan Fung Group & Social Impact
Vanessa Cheung, Group Managing Director of Nan Fung Group, is a strong advocate of social impact measurement. Here are her main takeaways:
- “At the third generation of business, Nan Fung focuses on cross-generational bonding within the company and how to bring the community across the 3 generations. For instance, our landmark revitalisation project The Mills was truly a challenge and a miracle to the group.
- The whole idea was driven by my grandfather’s motto: care for others as well as you would care for yourself. I think all companies should be caring companies.
- Last year, Nan Fung established our own sustainability framework “SEWIT”, an acronym standing for Social Cohesion, Environment, Wellness, Innovation, and Technology. The SEWIT framework was put together to help foster impact-driven values across the value chains of Nan Fung and its community network. Compared to other pillars, social cohesion is relatively more challenging to measure. We have tried different tools to help individuals understand how their personal interest in social issues can be synthesised into a workspace.”