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Social Impact Assessment 

Social Impact Assessment in B-schools

Increasingly  the B-schools and the Accreditation agencies worldwide are realizing  that the purpose of Higher Education is to serve the larger society not just shareholders. The Triple bottom-line people, planet and profits. is more real now than ever with the way world is teetering on the precipice of destruction with still  little hope of salvation. The solution  for the woes of the earth and its sustainability should come from the future leadership becoming sensitive to the needs of the society and not just the companies or institutions they are working.  " The general goal of a sustainable business strategy is to positively impact the environment, society, or both, while also benefiting shareholders. Business leaders are increasingly realizing the power of sustainable business strategies in not only addressing the world’s most pressing challenges but driving their firms’ success. However, defining what sustainability means, solidifying clear and attainable goals, and formulating a strategy to achieve those goals can be daunting." Harvard Business Review blogpost. 

 

What is Social Impact?

The International Association for  Impact Assessment (IAIA), says ,  the processes of analysing, monitoring and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions (policies, programs, plans, projects) and any social change processes invoked by those interventions. Its primary purpose is to bring about a more sustainable and equitable biophysical and human environment.

The important features of this definition are that: 

  1. The goal of impact assessment is to bring about a more ecologically, socio-culturally and economically sustainable and equitable environment. Impact assessment, therefore, promotes community development and empowerment, builds capacity, and develops social capital (social networks and trust).

  1. United Nations Global Compact  under the then Secretary General Kofi Annan in the year 2015  set out 17 sustainable development goals  and also set a target year 2030. The goals encompass all that is needed to be done to ensure that the future generation inherits a sustainable world, where hunger, poverty, healthcare, employment and such other are tackled in the most diligent way. This is more crucial now  owing to  digitalization of the economy  resulting in  phenomenal al-round productivity  increase using AI, Machine Learning, Deep learning, Internet of Things, Blockchain etc.,  Ironically, the technology that would give rise to higher prosperity would also   pose challenges on the redistributive justice front. Implementation of Minimum Basic income strategies to keep people while their job opportunities and means of earning would narrow is the biggest challenge democracies are facing now. 

  2. Social Impact Assessment

  3. It is in this context, SEAA Trist, New Delhi  the globally acknowledged   advocacy  non profit  for  International quality benchmarking  in Business Education is  taking up the issue of social impact assessment  with the  B-schools. 

  4. Accreditation systems  with which we have been closely working  have already taken up  social impact assessment as one of their key  benchmarks in  accepting the schools to be accredited by them. While campaigning for the accreditation systems as a whole, we would also be able to advise the Business schools  on their social Impact strategies and provide  metrics for their measurement. 

  1. The focus of concern of SIA is a proactive stance to development and better development outcomes, not just the identification or amelioration of negative or unintended outcomes. Assisting communities and other stakeholders to identify development goals, and ensuring that positive outcomes are maximised, can be more important than minimising harm from negative impacts.

  2. The methodology of SIA can be applied to a wide range of planned interventions, and can be undertaken on behalf of a wide range of actors, and not just within a regulatory framework.

  3. SIA contributes to the process of adaptive management of policies, programs, plans and projects, and therefore needs to inform the design and operation of the planned intervention.

  4. SIA builds on local knowledge and utilises participatory processes to analyse the concerns of interested and affected parties. It involves stakeholders in the assessment of social impacts, the analysis of alternatives, and monitoring of the planned intervention.

  5. The good practice of SIA accepts that social, economic and biophysical impacts are inherently and inextricably interconnected. Change in any of these domains will lead to changes in the other domains. SIA must, therefore, develop an understanding of the impact pathways that are created when change in one domain triggers impacts across other domains, as well as the iterative or flow-on consequences within each domain. In other words, there must be consideration of the second and higher order impacts and of cumulative impacts.

  6. In order for the discipline of SIA to learn and grow, there must be analysis of the impacts that occurred as a result of past activities. SIA must be reflexive and evaluative of its theoretical bases and of its practice.

  7. While SIA is typically applied to planned interventions, the techniques of SIA can also be used to consider the social impacts that derive from other types of events, such as disasters, demographic change and epidemics.

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