Jose Retana

Total Impact Measurement and Management initiative at PwC

Jose RetanaAssociate Director, Sustainability and Climate Change at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Last month saw the launch of Net Positive: A new way of doing business. I am delighted to see business coming together to define the 12 principles that drive a net positive approach. “Giving back more than you take” is a great way to do business and must be the way forward – I’ve never felt the “do less harm” approach was the right one. It’s good to see some great brand names (eg. BT, Capgemini, Coca-Cola Enterprises, The Crown Estate, IKEA Group, Kingfisher and SKF) agreeing that there is another way. But it’s hardly rocket science – why should society accept businesses in their communities that are “net negative”?… the flipside to net positive. Over the last year I have been speaking to many businesses urging them to think about their impacts in the economies, communities and natural environments in which the operate and to think about what it would mean to be ‘net positive’ when all of those aspects are taken into account. Why would they (or should they) be given a licence to operate if they are not?

This is a topic that is close to my heart. I talk a lot about a future with a focus on ‘good’ growth, and identifying and progressing the opportunities that offer real, responsible, inclusive and lasting growth. And, in our latest poll, when we asked “what’s the best way for business to make a profit?”, 58% agreed business should be net positive, giving back more than it takes.[i] Very few, only 8%, thought profit should come first. In fact, the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer highlights that 84% of citizens believe that business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society. Not doing less harm – doing good work.

We’ve seen something similar when we’ve talked to CEOs about measuring their total impact. They’re cognisant that there is a better way to do things but, they hesitate … the biggest barrier to adoption being a lack of available data (74%).[ii]

Looking through some of the objectives these companies have in place to drive their net-positive ambitions, they’re around carbon emissions, waste reduction, forestry management and lighting – not the usual fare for the balance sheet. Each requires data that’s recorded to start off with! And hopefully in a way that’s accessible, dependable, ideally automated etc. But it’s only a hurdle, not a brick wall!

In PwC’s work on total impact, we’re starting to address some of these data issues. Quantification and going that step further to monetise impacts are important considerations and we’re developing the methodologies to get the data business needs. Firstly, we’ve developed a framework called Total Impact Measurement & Management (TIMM) – find out more at www.pwc.com/totalimpact.Designed as a decision making tool, TIMM can be used to help business work out if their activities (including their supply chain) have a positive or negative impact. By measuring and valuing social, environmental and economic impacts, it enables business leaders to understand the total impacts of their strategies and investment choices, compare them, and manage the trade-offs. TIMM considers the principles of CBA and SROI but has aimed, over the last six years, to build on best practice and further develop methods to measure and value the most common social and environmental impacts which businesses generate and influence both directly as well as indirectly in their value chains. Secondly, we’ve recently acquired GeoTraceability, a company that specialises in large scale data collection and traceability programs adapted to small producers and smallholders in developing and emerging countries. This shows our further commitment to the data issue.

We recognise that data holds the key to allowing business to deliver its vision to be net positive and, with our heritage in accountancy and audit, we have an appreciation for the quality of data that is required. Fit for purpose, fit for decision making, fit for the boardroom and fit for enabling a growing population to live well on a planet of finite resources.

 

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