Social Impact Assessment

Why Social Impact Assessment Matters for Your Business

You may have heard the term ‘Social Impact Assessment’ but might not know exactly what it means. Relax, we’re here to help. In today’s rapidly changing world, commercial businesses are increasingly being held accountable for their social impact alongside their financial performance. They are being challenged to act as forces for good, to support the well-being of their staff and customers and to improve the communities within which they operate. With stakeholders becoming more aware and vocal about corporate responsibility, the concept of Social Impact Assessment (SIA) has, as a result, gained significant importance. In this blog post, ASTOP will explore the topic of social impact and explain why it ought to matter to all modern businesses.

What Does Social Impact Assessment Mean?

Social Impact has become the catch-all description of social, environmental and community consequences of a proposed business project, policy, or program. It describes positive and negative results for audiences including communities, employees, customers and society at large. Businesses can make informed decisions and mitigate any adverse effects by assessing the social implications of their actions.

A Social Impact Assessment, therefore, involves gathering data, conducting analyses and engaging with various populations to assess potential social impacts across a wide range of economic, cultural, social, and environmental factors. It provides a framework for understanding how a project or business activity may affect people’s lives, livelihoods, and well-being.


The Business Case for Social Impact Assessments

The expectations of consumers and investors for businesses have changed considerably in recent years. Many want to be proactive and progressive, making decisions that contribute positively to society as well as gain.

The ability to demonstrate your product or service will have a positive social impact, through a Social Impact Assessment, is likely to give you a competitive advantage in your market sector. A reputation for positive social impact is a great brand strength. We can all think of examples of customers who are loyal to companies that do good deeds or support worthy causes. The success of Fair Trade tea and coffee is a prime example of customer’s preferences at work. It is also why free-range and ethically sourced meat and dairy product suppliers can charge a premium.

Employees, as well as customers, like to know they are working for a socially responsible organisation. Sharing the results of a positive Social Impact Assessment can prove a very worthwhile part of any talent acquisition or retention process. Most of us like to feel we are contributing to a better world, after all. This is especially true of younger workers who are, perhaps, more socially aware than previous generations.

Integrating Social Impact Assessment

Integrating Social Impact Assessment into Corporate Strategy

What is Social Impact Assessment’s role in your company’s overall strategy? Is it embedded or an add-on? To be effective, measurement of your social impact must be taken seriously and aligned with your core vision and values.

Companies that state they are ethical, for example, yet ignore the results of a Social Impact Assessment are only paying lip service to what matters. It is these companies that fall foul of bad press and publicity when, as an example, they are found to pay low wages or pollute the environment.

The companies that succeed use Social Impact Assessment exercises to demonstrate what they are achieving. They are keeping their promises and making a real difference in the world. Assessment allows them to quantify their impact and share the good news amongst employees, customers, investors and other interested parties.

Where Does Social Impact Assessment Sit In Your Business

Social Impact Assessment forms a distinctive quantitative and qualitative approach to measuring a business’s impact and driving positive change. It typically sits aligned closely with an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) function as they can share goals and methodologies.

Social Impact Assessment is, however, generally more focused on data and reporting. Good practice Social Impact Assessment will be entirely evidence-based and use quantitative and qualitative research to point to genuine impact. It is the outcome of CSR and related activity rather than a contributor in and of itself.

Social Impact, Property & Community

At ASTOP we specialise in ensuring that businesses can maximise the social impact their premises have on the local community. Specifically, we can help organisations use empty office and retail spaces for social good. A commercial landlord or proper owner might, if a property is unused, see a conflict between their interests and the local community. We square that circle. Through an unparalleled network of businesses, charities and good causes we can transform the inconvenience and cost of unloved and unwanted properties into opportunities for significant positive social impact.

This means that landlords not only benefit from empty properties, but they can also use any unoccupied time to have a positive impact on any Social Impact Assessment. Retail and office space that is filled through charitable partnerships is a very visible social benefit that investors, customers and staff will note. Such initiatives are also typically welcomed by the local press and local councils. The latter typically support them as an acceptable mechanism for Business Rate mitigation too.

If you are looking for support with Social Impact Assessment or any other aspect of property-related corporate social responsibility activities, feel free to contact us.

Social Impact, Property & Community