Collaboration in creating social impact metrics

Feb 25, 2016

The assessment of social indicators along the value chains will not only generate relevant information to improve sustainability, but will also open up new business opportunities. The Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, a business-led initiative that aims to create harmonized and credible metrics measuring a product’s social impacts, is moving forward as a multi-stakeholder organization in 2016. BASF has been a member since the foundation of the initiative that works in close cooperation with external stakeholders such as academia, NGOs, governments and industry organizations.

“In order to effectively manage sustainability, a company must be able to measure or otherwise quantify sustainability over all three pillars considering environmental, economic and social aspects, as a product or service has an impact on more areas than just climate or water for example. Social aspects like health, fair wages and safe working conditions have to be taken into account as well,” said Dr. Peter Saling, Director of Sustainability Methods at BASF.

Over the last two years the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics has made several steps forward to create an industry-wide framework of social impact metrics. In 2014 the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment was published as the first social impact assessment method at a product level that was developed cross-industry, describing an innovative method for assessing a product’s social impacts throughout its life cycle.

In 2015 the participants of the Roundtable jointly refined the method by conducting new pilots across regions and developing tools to facilitate the application of the method in day-to-day business contexts. In addition, synergies with database providers were identified and the handbook was adjusted to align with the WBCSD Chemical Sector methodology. Of the latter, Dr. Saling said: “This collaboration has very high value, as WBCSD is an important trendsetter. We should harmonize methods as much as possible.”

The revised Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment and an application toolkit are available for free download at the Roundtable website.

Birgit Hellmann
Global Sustainability Communications