We have worked in social impact field for more than 25 years. We started out with an idea to mobilize a small town to take care of itself and have ended up working with multi-national corporations on six continents to create ways to make the world better. In every conversation with a company — after we learn about what their strategy is, what the brand represents, and what their people want — we always end up asking, “OK, what are you going to do?”
We created the foundation of this data analysis on three consistent observations over the years:
First, goals and strategy are good and necessary, but at some point, someone is going to have to do something. Good senior management teams know that they are judged on what they do rather than what they say. Rising generations of employees and customers are listening less and watching more. They want to see action. Real impact is a lagging indicator. If you want to reveal a company’s real strategy and intention, you need to look at where and how are investing their resources.
Second, we have seen social impact move from something that only a corporate foundation does to something that is done across an entire enterprise. We have worked with foundations, marketing departments, meeting and events teams, and HR teams. In recent years, however, we have been working more with finance, strategy teams, and CEOs directly. Coherent actions and communications across these disciplines is hard to find — and so is good information. Short-term incentives have created disjointed actions and reporting.
Third, all of our experience and clients have been with for-profit industry. The key metric for business is how they are doing against their competitors. Capitalism is amoral; it can be told what to do. By creating these benchmarks and standing up a company’s actions against competitors, we aim to mobilize more action and investment across the enterprise.
SocialMarks is first and foremost an actionable dataset that shows management teams how they are doing against their competition when it comes to the ‘S’ of ESG. We look less at what companies say and more at what they are doing. We want to compare actions across companies so that when you ask, “What are we going to do?”, there are guideposts on where to start.
The approach is novel in how we have combined and scored the data to reveal opportunites. There isn’t an absolute score or judgment in here. Everything is designed to be relative, so that the laws of competition can come into play in a way that makes everyone win.