They should seek to record and apply the lessons learned to date in applying the Protocol to improve and streamline the process, as well as re-engage the internal stakeholders who have been involved so far as advocates within the company.
We end the Protocol with a call to action for companies to reach beyond their own organizations and contribute to the strengthening and alignment of the evolving practice of social capital measurement and valuation for business. While the measurement and valuation of social capital holds the power to transform how companies think and do business, there is some way to go to truly integrate people, planet and profit as drivers of sustainable growth. Wherever possible, companies should seek to share their stories, methodologies, indicators and values applied. They should discuss the challenges, benefits and opportunities of their experience, as well as sharing their ambitions and goals, and acting as advocates for mainstreaming social capital measurement and valuation for business. Remember, even if an organization is new to this practice, the field is young and all companies are at the beginning of their journeys. The experience and insights of leading businesses are essential to inform and advance this important capability.
Mainstream social capital assessment within the organization
Companies should refer to the outcomes of Stage 1 of the Protocol to define their next priority areas. This could be addressing an area of high risk, interest to stakeholders, or importance to the business. When making a longer-term plan, companies should keep the following points in mind:
- Don’t be afraid to address negative social issues that could be caused by the company, impact the company’s operations and/or supply chains, or pose a potential risk. Addressing the many societal challenges that touch upon business operations is often a more essential, credible and valuable initiative than seeking new opportunities.
- Shift mind-sets towards transformation. Although the assessment may be moving on to a new subject, or to pilots in a new business function, efforts to implement the Social Capital Protocol should be clearly framed as part of a cross-cutting change effort which will eventually affect the entire organization.
- Share long-term ambitions, goals and objectives with staff across the company. This is most powerful if the messages come from senior leadership. Where the measurement and valuation effort impacts your supply chain, seek opportunities to begin broader expectation-setting with your suppliers, customers and stakeholders.
- Leverage the experience, insight and enthusiasm of measurement and valuation team members to engage additional employees. Focus on the impact of the effort on society, but also on the benefits it has brought to the business - in terms of improving decision-making capabilities and ultimately in reducing risk and increasing performance, profit or recognition.
Mainstream social capital measurement and valuation for all business
There are a number of actions companies can consider to contribute to the broader field of social capital measurement and valuation:
- Produce a case study - Consider appropriate channels and events to feature, discuss and advocate for your approach with stakeholders and peers.
- Go beyond sustainability reporting - Look for opportunities and angles to feature the initiative, results and plans in the company’s corporate and/or integrated report.
- Join relevant initiatives, platforms or groups - Combine forces with peers and experts to advance specific areas of interest, relevance, expertise or challenge. This could include:
- Industry or value chain - bringing together companies facing similar or shared contexts, challenges and opportunities.
- Subject-specific - for example, platforms specifically addressing human rights, supply chain transparency, or the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Technical - groups of companies and experts tackling specific technical challenges related to measurement and valuation. This could include initiatives which are working on defining standardized indicators, building joint databases, or advancing monetization techniques.
- Share indicators, metrics, data sources, valuation techniques and values - Sharing and aligning best practice is crucial to moving towards standardization. In particular, it will be interesting to understand where companies have applied, tailored or improved indicators and metrics from existing standards or databases, or where companies have managed to source suitable data, and what values companies and their stakeholders have found to be useful, credible and appropriate.
- Engage your senior leadership and senior stakeholders as external advocates - Within the organization, CEOs, CFOs and the heads of human resources are important voices to add weight to this movement. This is essential to gain the interest and buy-in of investors and capital markets. In addition, if you have worked with an external organization that holds expertise or credibility in an area of social impact, consider engaging this stakeholder to communicate and advocate on your joint achievements. For example, companies that have worked with international NGOs, UN agencies, leading academics or expert organizations on a particular social issue gain an additional level of credibility, while stakeholders can advocate for improved business awareness, engagement and performance.