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Why social impact needs to be a priority and not just a tick in the box

Written by Natasha Mudhar on Friday, 14 June 2019. Posted in Leadership, People

Making money is important. However, it's increasingly essential to ensure your company has a social impact as it can benefit beyond boosting your profit

Why social impact needs to be a priority and not just a tick in the box

In today’s incredibly competitive business environment, it’s survival of the fittest. While it’s true that making profit is paramount to ensuring the success of a business, there also the question of morality which must be addressed. In an age where we are increasingly becoming conscious of our actions and their impact on the environment, an effective social impact strategy is now the key to long-term business growth and viability. 

Social impact strategies need to be ingrained in the very fabric of a company’s corporate DNA and not just used to fill another page in the handbook. In having a purpose, a company’s overall mission is improved. Businesses are increasingly acknowledging that doing good means doing well. However, it’s important to understand that this goes beyond your marketing and corporate philanthropy. An effective strategy integrated into the body of a business plan will ensure it has both quantifiable business outcomes as well as a measurable and definitive societal impact. 

Companies that can balance profit and purpose simultaneously will truly thrive. An organisation that is mainly profit driven is only capable of managing its employees and resources, while an organisation that is both profit and purpose driven provides mobility to its employees and resources in a way that is incomparable. For a company to truly thrive, purpose needs to be embedded in its core. In other words, companies need to do well by doing good. 

Employees are your most valuable asset 

Companies that exhibit a strong social impact strategy not only enhances trust and engagement with the public, but also makes the company a more attractive option to prospective employees. This will also result in engaged employees, who will see a more meaningful impact of their work as it is geared to not only generating profit, but also more value, resulting in a stronger sense of fulfilment and purpose amongst employees and essentially enhance a positive impact in the workplace. The people are what make a business, they are the most genuine representation of a company’s brand and value, organisations need to remember this when considering implemented social impact strategies. 

Scaling up social impact needs to be a multi-sector process

Companies that adopt cross-sector collaboration will achieve better social outcomes. Collaboration across public, private and the social sector has the potential to address complex challenges through the pulling together of various resources and achieve common goals through joint efforts. Today, many private, public and social sectors are still segregated and siloed, unaware of the effectiveness and efficiency of collaboration to achieve mutually desired social outcomes.  

So, who does the responsibility lie with?

While it is one thing to understand that social impact is a topic that must be addressed in a business but who does that responsibility lie with? 

It is up to the company’s leadership to have a social impact strategy in place and at the top of the business agenda. An effective strategy needs to be embedded into the day-to-day workings of a company, prioritising the achievement of long-term value that benefits not only the company but also the employees and society at large. 

Companies must consider social impact as a companywide initiative and not just a tick in the box. In this age of heightened transparency and increased accountability, can companies really afford to leave this issue unaddressed? 

About the Author

Natasha Mudhar

Natasha Mudhar is the global CEO of Sterling Media, the multi-disciplinary, international business consultancy. 

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