Social Impact Management Framework

Commitment to positive corporate social performance has become a baseline expectation regardless of company size, industry, or scope of operations. However, there is a big difference between how a traditional business focused exclusively on generating economic returns, and a social profit business using traditional marketplaces to generate social returns, will approach designing a social impact program.

The tools below are helpful in understanding where your organization is currently positioned along a spectrum and provide some context for envisioning what's possible. Depending on goals, resources, and maturity, an organization may elect to position itself at one end of the spectrum or the other. This is not a comprehensive self-assessment, rather a starting place for conversation with your team about managing your organization's social impact.

Building your framework

Whether your organization is starting its sustainability journey or looking to enhance an existing program, there are some basic steps in building a contextual framework that works for your business and your stakeholders. The roadmap below outlines those steps and some prompting questions to help set strategy in context and determine the more practical elements of a social impact program.

For more information on building a social impact management framework or enhancing an existing program, contact us.

Collaborative storytelling

The truth about stories is, that’s all we are.
— Thomas King

Every organization has stories about extraordinary events, people, and decisions that have collectively contributed to shaping its culture and performance. Woven together, these stories create a narrative illustrating how an organization works, grows, and cares for its employees, communities, and the environment. Narratives tell us about organizational values and priorities whether social wellbeing, innovation, safety, or protecting the environment.

Effective stories are about connection, placing people and communities at the centre and focusing on the lived experience: the people involved, the choices they made, and why they made them.

What is it?

Collaborative storytelling is a methodology to surface shared values, evaluate programs, build relationships and communicate results and outcomes to various audiences. It can be used to strengthen internal capacity in sustainability work, as well as to share positive sustainability progress with audiences external to your organization.

We work with stakeholders to tell the story together, as they experienced it. This participatory approach empowers stakeholders by amplifying their voices, while simultaneously helping your organization understand how they perceive and experience the impacts and benefits of your sustainability efforts. Taking a collaborative storytelling approach is as much about the process of engaging the stakeholder (whether customers, community or employees) and building relationships, as it is about the final product. This may be as simple as a case study to be shared internally or with key partners, or as complex as an interactive website rich with video content.

Collaborative storytelling helps make meaning from data by focusing on the lived experience. One story at a time, an organizational sustainability narrative will emerge that empowers your teams to make different choices, to do things better, to see the bigger picture.

Collaborative storytelling can take many forms, be applied in a variety of contexts, and be designed to reach different audiences. For example, storytelling can describe how your organization:

  • Established a community advisory committee to address conflict related to resource development
  • Worked with a supplier to increase their capacity to meet criteria related to environmental or social performance
  • Collaborated with donors to develop shared goals and measure outcomes

Stories are presented in the format most appropriate to audience and material. This may be as simple as a case study to be shared internally or with key partners, or as complex as an interactive website rich with video content.

Partnering with INLE to tell your stories, you can expect:

  • Written and/or visual communications material that can support: sustainability reporting, certification standards, investor communications, peer group sharing of best practices, and employee communications, among others;
  • Strengthened relationships with key stakeholders such as: communities, employees, and suppliers;
  • Enhanced mutual understanding of shared value and positive social impacts of your engagement/initiative/program;
  • Guidance through a meaningful and transformational approach to merging communications, engagement and impact.

Understanding a rights-based approach

Business has always played a critical role in human development. The growing desire and demand to build more purposeful business requires an innovative, "people-first" approach. 

Simply understood, taking a rights-based approach means doing just that: considering the risks, impacts, and opportunities to people first.