In the past, most people felt businesses should concentrate on producing safe, high-quality products, creating jobs and paying taxes. These expectations have now changed significantly. Given the major social and environmental challenges we currently face, the business community is increasingly expected to operate in a way that is sustainable over the long term. What’s more, it must demonstrate that it is doing so. Companies accustomed to measuring their success in terms of sales and profits often view these non-financial obligations as a major challenge. What are the “right” targets, both for the company and for the relevant interest groups? How can those targets be achieved? The Benchmarking CSR focus area develops approaches and tools for improving how businesses document their sustainability activities, in order to increase both the transparency and credibility of their business practices.
In terms of their everyday operations, companies can be evaluated using standard concepts such as sales and earnings. Yet how can their efforts to promote sustainable social development be assessed? Many challenges still exist to creating effective criteria, since CSR-related activities are highly complex and specific to each organization. In addition, while some activities can be quantified -- consumption of natural resources such as water and electricity, for example -- some are much more subjective and therefore harder to measure. Examples here include employee satisfaction, employee motivation and, stemming from the first two, whether a company serves as a role model in the community.
In order to develop benchmarks for sustainable management practices, tools are required that can produce robust results for activities that are often difficult to delineate clearly. Thanks to the iooi (input, output, outcome, impact) Method, the Bertelsmann Stiftung now provides a system that makes corporate citizenship both quantifiable and manageable, providing concrete figures as a result.
Working with partners from various social sectors, the project uses innovative approaches to anchor proven sustainability activities in the business community’s strategies and management processes. Given Germany’s economic structure, these efforts are being designed to assist midsized enterprises in particular.
The iooi Method provides a practical framework for measuring CSR activities in a way that is both methodologically sound and efficient. By making corporate citizenship quantifiable and, thus, visible, it helps companies define goals, plan projects and evaluate outcomes.more
If CSR is to continue to grow in importance, socially responsible business practices must be made more transparent and robust. This means helping businesses quantify and evaluate their efforts to promote sustainable social development.more
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