Why does this dimension matter?
An effect experienced by people and planet can be related to a certain outcome, or multiple outcomes, that make up a full and happy life or the sustainability of our planet. We judge whether the outcome is positive or negative and how important it is to us. We might base this judgement on our own preferences, our experience, or on expert opinion or public consensus.
EXAMPLE: Immunity to a disease is related to good health. We judge whether good health is positive and important to us. We may be guided by medical experts, or global consensus like the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our intentions might lead us to frame the effects we seek to generate in terms of a challenge we want to address, like climate change or homelessness. When we frame our desired effects as overcoming a challenge, we can still translate it into what people and the planet want and need to experience (or stop experiencing, if negative) across the dimensions of impact. In case studies you can read more about various challenges translated into impact across the five dimensions.
What information do we need?
We collect information on the type of outcome(s) people think the effect relates to and whether it is positive or negative. We can’t consider what outcome(s) are relevant to our impact management without also considering the dimensions of who and how much. This is because:
- Different people value certain outcomes more or less, so the perspective of those experiencing the effect (who) determines whether the related outcome is important and positive or negative (ideally based on data collected directly from them).
- An outcome becomes relevant when the effect an enterprise has on the outcome is significant (how much). The information we need about outcomes an effect relates to and how important they are is inextricably linked to experiences the effect, and of the effect they need.
We therefore always collect information about outcomes, alongside information about who experiences it and how much of the effect they experience.
In this section, we bring the dimensions to life through examples of how of a number of enterprises work to deliver employment outcomes for young people with different needs in different geographies. The examples are drawn from specific organisations but illustrate useful approaches for any enterprise or investor – big, small, for-profit or non-profit – managing impact across the five dimensions.
EXAMPLE: Resurgo is an enterprise in the UK, which works with over 750 young people aged 16-24 in London annually. Their 6-week programme seeks to give young people who are looking for employment the communication skills, emotional intelligence, ambition, practical tools and confidence they need to find and sustain work, while they earn an academic qualification.
To understand what outcomes are experienced, Resurgo developed a set of 10 work readiness indicators that include punctuality, presentation, and attitude. These indicators were developed through a review of existing tools (including Casey Life Skills, EFF Standards and the Ready for Work framework).
Participant feedback is sought at the end of each session via a survey designed for the programme. The young people are asked about their preferences and what they found most helpful in improving their work readiness. With simple questions including, ‘Was there anything you didn’t like about the syllabus? If so, why did you dislike it?’ Coaches and participants also critically assess the existing curriculum to understand which are most important to the young people, and ensure that all 10 of the work readiness indicators are sufficiently addressed.
To understand who is experiencing what outcomes, Resurgo assesses each young person against 10 indicators of disadvantage which have been shown to correlate with whether a young person is likely to be underserved in relation to employability and employment outcomes. These indicators include whether the young person has a criminal record, has experience of being in care, or is homeless or living in supported housing. Resurgo aims for at least 80% of each group of people to have at least 1 of these attributes of disadvantage. However, Resurgo retrospectively analyse these indicators, so as not to alienate the young people or foster the stigma associated with youth employment programmes. Currently an average of 90% of participants have at least one indicator of disadvantage and more than 60% have three or more.
How does this help us to manage our impact?
Information about what outcome(s) an effect relates to – and whether it is important, either positively or negatively, to the people or planet experiencing it – contributes to our understanding of which effects are material and require managing.
Careful analysis may also indicate that different outcomes are being experienced by different groups of people (or the planet), which can help us refine our approach.
For example, to ensure important positive outcomes are being delivered to those who need them, Resurgo analyse the data collected to highlight specific support needs for each young person, who are then offered additional support in these areas. At an aggregate level, linking this data to longer-term outcomes like progression to full- or part-time employment, allows the team to learn which work readiness indicators are the biggest drivers of positive outcomes.
Analysing the indicators of deprivation of the current group of participants every two months gives the enterprise ongoing confidence that it is working with underserved young people, as well as allowing the precise needs of each group of people to feed into programmatic decision making. For example, previous data showed that supported housing was the primary indicator of disadvantage in 50% of centres. This led to a managerial decision to train all coaching teams on housing issues, so that staff could better understand the experiences and needs of participants.
To improve (how much) of the effect is delivered, the team analyse performance and survey data to learn which work readiness indicators are underrepresented in the course, compared to others.
For example, ‘managing emotions’ was found to have far less representation in the curriculum compared to professional communication; this led to sessions and activities on emotional resilience and motivation being introduced to address this gap. This change led to a 10% increase in the number of participants who had successfully transitioned to employment within 3 months of completing the programme (i.e. an increase in the rate of delivery of deep outcomes for many).
Resurgo also moved the programme time from 9am-midday to 2pm-5pm, based on feedback. The attendance and retention of the subsequent groups of participants increased as a result of this change.
A set of environmental and social goals and indicators for businesses based on scientific research, which help us articulate outcomes (WHAT) that businesses need to achieve for six common stakeholder groups (WHO).
Global Value Exchange
This crowd-sourced database of indicators organised by outcome (WHAT) and stakeholder (WHO) helps us describe and find commonly used metrics for measuring performance.
SDG Compass: Inventory of Business Tools
The SDGs are set of outcomes (WHAT), in some cases expressed as a challenge, agreed to be universally important. This database maps existing tools and resources to aid impact management against these SDG outcome/challenge areas.
Social Progress Index
These indicator sets help us to describe outcomes (WHAT) within three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.
Young Foundation Outcomes Measurement Tools
This database helps us find a fit-for-purpose outcomes measurement technique for a set of outcome areas (WHAT) relating to young people.
Bringing impact management to life
Impact Management Case Study in Off-Grid EnergyOctober 18, 2017
This case study brings the full impact management process to life from the perspective of Acumen Fund; an investment manager who has made a number of investments in off-grid energy. While impact management is still a work in progress for Acumen, the case study aims to highlight the value of collecting data across all of the dimensions of impact and illustrate how this data is used to re-set goals and improve performance.Read More
The Impact Management GlossaryJuly 10, 2017
When it comes to assessing and managing impact, many terms mean different things to different people, or different words are used to mean the same thing. The glossary is a collaborative effort to reduce possible confusion by showing what different terms mean when they are defined for or by a certain community of practice.Read More
Investor’s Perspective: Constructing a portfolio on the efficient impact-financial frontierOctober 4, 2017
Root Capital has been working with the Impact Management Project to provide guidance for individual funds within a single asset class, who are looking to build a portfolio on the efficient frontier of both financial and impact performance.Read More
Perspective from the Australian marketSeptember 28, 2017
Based on a series of webinars, this downloadable document summarises insights from the sessions, showing how the Australian perspective has informed the global convention.Read More
How do we know if impact has occurred?September 27, 2017
Collecting evidence of impact is an important step towards figuring out which material positive and negative effects are occurring, before making decisions to improve the experience of people and planet.Read More
Investor’s Perspective: Incorporating impact goals into traditional asset allocationAugust 29, 2017
Over the last six months, UBS has been working with the Impact Management Project on a series of model portfolios that illustrate different combinations of impact and financial goals. These portfolios, along with insights gained along the way, are showcased here, in the hope that we can contribute to the ongoing discussion about how best to incorporate impact considerations into asset allocation.Read More