What social indicators should purpose-driven businesses be measuring?

Join us and a panel of experts for a live written discussion, as part of the Business Fights Poverty Online 2020 Conference, to explore the social indicators that purpose-driven businesses should be measuring.

Live Panel
13th July 2020, 3:15pm - 4:15 PM BST [ADD TO CALENDAR]


  • Mario Augusto Maia, Head of Investments, Novozymes
  • Leonora Barclay, Global PR Manager, Avon
  • Vittorio Cerulli, Senior Adviser, Business Fights Poverty
  • Aiden Choles, DBK Advisory
  • Robert Eccles, Visiting Professor of Management Practice, Said Business School, University of Oxford
  • Hanne Dalmut, Sr. Director of Partnership Development, Concordia
  • Cory Gilman, Advocacy Manager (Equitable Value Chains-- Coffee), Heifer International
  • Mark Hauser, Partner, Innate Motion
  • Mark Hodge, Senior Associate, SHIFT
  • Ben Kellard, Director of Business Strategy, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Mark Meaney, Scholar-in-Residence, Social Responsibility and Sustainability, Leeds School of Business
  • Daniel Neale, Social Transformation Lead, World Benchmarking Alliance
  • Charlotte Portier, Manager of International Policy, Global Reporting Initiative
  • Meegan Scott, Principal Consultant, Magate Wildhorse
  • Tazin Shadid, CEO, YYVentures

Moderator: Katie Hyson, Director of Thought Leadership, Business Fights Poverty

The coronavirus pandemic is reinforcing the importance of responsible business conduct, including topics such as labour protections, managing impacts on workers in the supply chain and paying fair taxes to ensure governments have sufficient revenue to protect and develop their people. Human rights and human development should be at the core of corporate sustainability action.

The context makes the development of social indicators more relevant than ever and provides an opportunity to discuss responsible business models and the role of business in society.

What would a common set of core social expectations that all companies must meet look like? What are the current critical gaps or stoppages that prevent this from happening at the moment? Beyond the basics, what are the key social transformations that companies can contribute to?

Held in partnership with the World Benchmarking Alliance, join this online written discussion to share your views, examples and suggestions, whilst asking the experts their advice.


  1. What would a common set of core social expectations that all companies must meet look like?
  2. What are the current critical gaps or stoppages that prevent this from happening at the moment?
  3. Beyond the basics, what are the key social transformations that companies can contribute to?


This is a text-based discussion. There will be no video or audio. Please post your comments below. After the live session, this discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights. To receive a free summary of this discussion afterwards, register here

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Companies must create disclosures inclusive of social risks so that investors can have a clear understanding of the total risks inherent in a development project. When projects, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), occur on and near indigenous peoples’ lands and territories, these risk analyses must account for indigenous and human rights under applicable international standards; the minimum standards set by most governments as to indigenous peoples are not adequate and must be supplemented through independent and culturally responsive evaluation.

Social costs accumulate not only to investors but also to local communities, to states,
to taxpayers, and to tribal governments. These communities often bear the financial burden when companies fail to obtain consent from indigenous peoples regarding projects that impact them. Many times, these communities are those with the fewest resources.

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Investors should develop best practices in due diligence by creating a list of considerations as to how to operationalize the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples regarding development of resources on and near their lands and territories. This includes use and development of all resources including, but not limited to, land and marine resources, and intellectual property.

Every decision by companies – and by investors, consumers and governments – has an impact, whether positive or negative of more often a mix of the two. Outstanding companies already act for positive impacts and reduce negative impacts. Inclusive and sustainable corporate networks are building rapidly. But what about the others? How can we devise a system which brings all companies into a more positive frame, going beyond the pioneers?
Impact reporting and accounting is the long term answer. As the saying goes, what is measured is what gets done. The Impact Management Project is collating a number of standardised impact reporting systems, such as the SASB and GRI initiative. However these are complex, long term and depend on consensus.
An alternative approach is supported by both the IMP and the Global Steering Group on Impact Investing: the Impact-Weighted Accounts Initiative led by Professor George Serafeim at Harvard Business School. Its ambition is to create accounting statements that transparently capture external impacts in a way that drives investor and managerial decision making, and to create a methodology that is adopted and widely used by investors and companies in making their business decisions.
IWAI has already published examples on environmental impacts, and is now working on employee aspects, including the impacts of sourcing diverse talent from companies’ local footprint. As IWAI uses existing publicly reported and audited data, it is not dependent on company choice – so includes the laggards as well as the pioneers for transparent impact. IWAI also helps companies make better decisions.
The Global Steering Group is working on 8 action areas to achieve a just and impact-led recovery which benefits all people and our planet. Impact reporting and accounting is our priority in the corporate sector. Transparent, standardised information is the key to unlocking scrutiny and action for impact, and for better lives and planet.

Hi everyone - welcome to this online discussion. We’ll be starting the live written panel in just a few minutes!


A1: [The social indicators that purpose-driven businesses should be measuring should be determined by :

  1. What the organization has articulated and committed to as its purpose. “That legacy” it would like to give to and to leave with its community, whether locally or globally. And today it had better be both. Despite slowbalization, despite the move towards making supply chains more local if nothing else have emphasized the need for local and global perspective the climate crisis and the COVID 19 pandemic has.

  2. That legacy should have something in it for both internal and external customers in addition to its wider community. But to add power to that purpose organizational leaders must be attuned to the problems that affects it community, other communities and humanity at large. The risk and threats, the pandemics and aggravates, the things that drive inequality, pollution or just a what might seem to be simply solution that makes live easier and if they get lucky that could be an innovation that comes with profit, financial viability and the validity of the business itself in terms of its ability to grow and retain customers because it offers a relevant solution. It means therefore the history of the business is relevant, the purpose or why of the business must be communicated and bought into by its entire team from top to botton.

  3. But if we look at a common set of core social expectations then we must look a local challenge of profitability and sustainability of the business but very importantly we must reference global challenges. And the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a great opportunity to add indicators beyond and in addition to core business indicators. But there is also the “Pressure State Response Framework” which can also serve as reference point for measures and indicators for businesses.

The expectations and indicators should therefore include:
• SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and in particular targets
8.5 full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value

8.7 Eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and child labour
8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
• All businesses should make a contribution to building the experience and skills gap. # of employees and students (2 separate engaged in apprenticeship and professional fellowship programmes).
• # from local community and the ethnic breakdown based on the community
• The diversity based on socio-economic background of those contracted.
• Average # of hours of training and # of hours of training related work experience
• Equitable share of revenue and employee compensation
SDG 5 – Gender Equality. % and # of women in managerial positions and I would add who feel they have the authority and capacity to deliver their roles independently and objectively.
5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
SDG 1 No Poverty - 1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.
% of staff with social protection. This means even micro-businesses should seek livelihood protection and insurance and strive to growing to facilitate delivering those objectives.
Big businesses should include small businesses and local producers in their value chain. # and % employed, dollar value of procurement spend as well as investment in making those supply chain more resilient.
I believe the social should also focus on the environmental impact where they become cross-cutting issues that is. Businesses should also have an indicator for voluntarily reporting into voluntary national reporting systems related to the SDGs.
It will help them to live their purpose, the same is true for reporting on and rewarding values and ethics statements lived up to.]


Hello and welcome to Business Fights Poverty and World Benchmarking Online Written Discussion - please introduce yourselves

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Hi all. Thanks for the invite to be part of this. My name is Mark Hodge. I am a Senior Associate at Shift and I co-lead our Valuing Respect project through which we are Developing Better ways to Evaluate Business Respect for Human Rights.

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Hi I’m Ben Kellard, Director of Business Strategy at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), part of Cambridge University. We work with leaders to inspire and enable them to transition to a sustainable economy. I work with leading businesses to help them align their purpose and strategies with a sustainable economy. Great to join this terrific panel and debate.


Hello, I am Charlotte, International Policy Manager at GRI. GRI is an independent, international organization providing the global Standards for corporate transparency. We help organizations worldwide understand and communicate their impacts on critical sustainability issues, including social aspects. Looking forward to discussing online today with you on this important topic.


Hi, really excited to be here! I do PR at Avon, focusing on our corporate responsibility, including our sustainability efforts as well as our programmes to increase education around breast cancer and raise awareness of violence against women and girls.


Hi everyone and thank you for the invitation. I am the founder of Purpose House and Challenge director at Business Fights Poverty. Looking forward to chatting with you today!


Hello! Hanne Dalmut, Sr. Director of Partnership Development at Concordia (www.concordia.net), where I support early stage partnerships as well as help strengthen cross-sector collaboration through our organization’s convene-connect-create model. Happy to be here!

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Our first question today:

Q1. What would a common set of core social expectations that all companies must meet look like?

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Hi everyone!
I’m thrilled to be here. My name is Mario Augusto Maia and I’m the Head of Investments at Novozymes A/S, the world’s largest industrial biotechnology technology company using biology and microorganisms to reduce use of fossil fuels and improve energy consumption, replace chemicals and improve crop, animal and human health.
My focus is primarily on early stage companies and startups working on new biotechnologies can play a key role in food production, water treatment, chemical reduction and animal and human health.
I have 16 years of equities research, funds management and corporate venture capital experience, working with and investing in companies in both developed and emerging countries.
Social considerations have been part of my career since 2009 when I was the Head of ESG for BoA Merrill Lynch Australian Equities Research. A lot has evolved over the years but many areas in the ESG have taken a long time to mature.
Born and raised in Brazil, I spent 17 years living in Australia prior to moving to Copenhagen, where I’m raising my 2 highly energetic boys with my wife.


Hi, nice to meet everyone. Sinead Duffy here from Bayer and I’m on the public affairs and sustainability team and look after external engagement.

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A1: Companies reporting in accordance with the GRI Standards must report on general social indicators listed in the GRI Universal Standards. We currently launched a consultation for the exposure draft, as these Universal Standards are going through a review. These general indicators include disclosures that provide details about the organization and its reporting practices, activities, governance, responsible business conduct policies and practices, and stakeholder engagement. See more on the consultation here: https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/work-program-and-standards-review/review-of-gris-universal-standards/

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A1. Minimum expectations:

Firstly do some good: Provide good jobs with good working conditions and fair pay that support the local economy; make a positive impact on other key drivers of health and wellbeing (education, healthcare, water and sanitation, agriculture and food production); and support community infrastructure

Do no harm (negatives of the above)

Stronger goal : Companies use their position to address inequalities and improve social, environmental and economic wellbeing, building capabilities, strengths and assets within communities.

Expectations could be grouped according to the Social Value theme of healthier, more sustainable, more resilient communities, such as:

  • Livelihoods, learning and opportunities (good ed, training, jobs, housing, supporting local economic development overall)
  • Health and vitality: (promoting good health messages, and access to affordable, good quality food, creating healthier, more sustainable and more resilient places and communities).
  • Relationships and connections: (supporting social and green community infrastructure; engaging within and cross sector for the benefit of the whole community; awareness-raising)

Prioritising actions in line with Marmot priorities (to address inequalities): e.g.

  • Fair employment and good work.
  • Best Start in Life.
  • Ensure a Healthy Standard of Living for all.
  • Prevention of Ill Health.
  • All People can maximise their potential and or capabilities.

Hi; I’m Cory Gilman and I work at Heifer International-- focusing on human rights, socio-economic and environmental justice in volatile commodities like coffee