SocialMarks is an action-based benchmarking tool for companies looking to build out their social impact and grow their ESG scores. We start with the notion that there are only so many things a company can do to help improve society. From there, we look at three main categories of investments and activities companies can make and do. Those categories are People, Brand, and Community.
Another surprising aspect of traditional ESG scores is that community investments are sometimes counted and sometimes not. How a company makes direct investments into communities where they operate is a revealing indicator of what kind of company it is. And, when it is put against the rest of the social investments a company makes, it can really impact the company’s social license to operate. SocialMarks breaks down community investments in the following way:
Employee volunteering programs: Employee volunteering is becoming a broadly used tool for companies. We consider employee volunteering represented by paid time off to volunteer. We look at the number of paid days offered, total number of hours, participation numbers, and —ultimately — the quality of the programs and their effectiveness.
Philanthropy: In addition to investing hours, companies invest money and organize fundraising efforts from its employees. SocialMarks looks at donations, charitable giving, partnerships with charities, and fundraising programs offered by a given company.
Skills, knowledge, and training: Many forward-thinking companies use their intellectual capital to invest externally, namely through apprenticeship schemes and external development courses.