- Leah Auld
Corporate investment in social performance is disengaged: this proposal suggests a means to engage firms to create real value for society
Large mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Vale are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on social performance initiatives. Although this is evidence of an increasing interest in social performance, the current initiatives are often criticised for being disengaged, focusing on monetary inputs instead of the value of outcomes.
This issue could be addressed in the context of a professional services firm, capitalising on existing tools and capabilities to facilitate their client’s management of social projects to optimise the value of their investment.
The firm would be engaged for the lifecycle of the project. Initially hosting a ‘kick off’ event, bringing together representatives from clients, NGOs, research institutes and community groups to brainstorm valuable problems and to define desired outcomes and boundary conditions of each group.
Once valuable projects are identified and agreed upon, the firm would act as a ‘behind the scenes’ facilitator. Customising existing strategic project management tools to focus on social performance outcomes would enable the firm to provide clients with valuable guidance on the progress of their social investment. The technological and reporting capabilities of a professional services firm would be a powerful tool, clearly articulating the outcomes of the social investments (both societal and the resultant improved financial performance).