Pursuing Social Impact

Perspectives

Pursuing Social Impact

A Lever to Sustainable Growth for Business

This new report, ‘Licence to Innovate: Breakthrough strategies for social impact’, co-authored by Deloitte and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (‘WBCSD’), presents the business case for social impact as a lever to sustainable growth and brings together the experiences of several multinational corporations, international organisations and social innovation experts.

Why and how are an increasing number of companies seeking to develop and integrate social impact solutions into their core business models? What are some key lessons to be learnt from the success and failures of companies who have pursued social impact strategies so far? Is your company ready for social innovation, and if so, what are some strategic considerations to keep in mind?

This new report, ‘Licence to Innovate: Breakthrough strategies for social impact’, co-authored by Deloitte and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (‘WBCSD’), addresses these questions through analysis that brings together the experiences of several multinational corporations, international organisations and social innovation experts.

The Report presents the business case for social impact as a lever to sustainable growth, which is underpinned by a combination of demand and supply side factors. From a demand side, an expanding array of stakeholders are applying unprecedented pressure on companies to deliver offerings that in addition to their traditional value, also provide value to society and to the environment. There is growing evidence that an increasing proportion of customers and employees favour transparency and socially responsible business practices, and this trend is set to continue as the proportion of Millennials represented in the global workforce increases.

Supply side factors are also reinforcing this trend, with businesses now able to reach more customers through lower cost technology, new legal and financial structures being introduced in some jurisdictions easing the tension between financial and social impact, and resource scarcity and climate change continuing to encourage companies to pursue resource efficiency.

In addition to articulating ‘why’ companies today are feeling compelled to consider social impact in same breath of profits when weighting up different opportunities, the Report also sheds light on ‘how’ this can be achieved through outlining five strategies that are commonly employed by companies looking to pursue social innovation as a means to achieving a social impact:

  • Invest in external solutions: Invest to advance external solutions already demonstrating profitability and impact
  • Engage a network: Engage in networked problem solving to identify and test possible solutions to scale
  • Accelerate externally: Secure external services to accelerate the solution development
  • Sandbox solutions: Advance internally developed solutions into a viable proof of concept through a shared proving ground
  • Innovate in-house: Advance a pipeline of solutions fully in-house 

The associated advantages and disadvantages for each strategy as well as the key considerations that should be factored in when determining their overall readiness for taking action are also outlined. As acknowledged in the foreword to the Report, David Cruikshank, Global Chairman, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD, write: “The WBCSD and its members, Deloitte among them, recognize that collaborative problem solving will be a critical part of how companies redefine the value they provide to society and innovate to solve global challenges. Developed well, these new business solutions may enable companies to better manage their risks, anticipate consumers’ demand, build positions in growth markets, secure access to needed resources, and strengthen their supply chains.”

Did you find this useful?