Helping business measure its socio-economic impact

Many companies are starting to measure how they impact the economies, environments and communities in which they operate.

By creating fairly paid jobs, training workers, building physical infrastructure, procuring raw materials, transferring technology, paying taxes, and expanding access to products and services ranging from food and healthcare to energy and information technology, companies affect people’s assets, capabilities, opportunities, and standards of living – sometimes positively, sometimes negatively.

And because these people are companies’ employees, customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, and neighbours, their growth and well-being matters to the bottom line. It influences whether or not companies have happy customers, healthy value chains, contented local communities, and supportive governments and other stakeholders now and into the future.

In measuring their impacts, companies are driven by core business objectives such as securing their license to operate, influencing policy or improving their reputation. However, few companies either take full advantage of this opportunity or get the benefits they were expecting.

Most often measurements focus on resources, activities and number of beneficiaries rather than the way that they changed local economies or transformed people's wellbeing. This communicates just a fraction of impacts and often misses the mark in addressing stakeholder interests. Furthermore, many companies fail to assess the benefits that fostering strong sustainable communities have in their long term business success and to identify the initiatives that maximise both private and social value.

PwC worked with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to create this guide which explores and compares the tools available to companies to help them measure their socio-economic impact.