03/08/2013 12:19 pm ET

Should Businesses Measure Their Social Impact?

I've spent a fair amount of the last nine years encouraging charities and social enterprises to measure their impact. Imploring, convincing, and more recently assisting charities' leaders to take this impact stuff seriously. Now I'm sure there's a pretty hefty selection bias in those I meet and with whom I discuss these issues, but it seems we're getting somewhere. Charity chief executives seem pretty convinced they need to take a more analytical, data-driven approach to managing their organisation than they thought a decade ago.

Yet in the time I've worked in this sector, I've spent almost no time talking to pure private sector businesses about measuring their social impact. However, recently I've been getting out and about among business leaders, and it seems it's starting to get onto their agendas. For example Centrica, the energy company that recently published a report claiming it contributed as much to the UK economy as the city of Manchester, and helped create enough jobs to employ everyone in Leicester.

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