Blogs & Comment

Accounting for Corporate Responsibility

There are two aspects of corporate responsibility that I refer to as the “final frontiers” in giving CSR real traction inside corporations. One is communication (both internal and external) and the other is accountability.
On the accountability front, there’s a good article today in the Globe and Mail titled ” The Push for Broader Accountability” by Terence Belford about how accounting firms are applying their “stock in trade of measuring, monitoring, and reporting to new heights” by helping their clients account for CSR initiatives.
I’m all for more measurement and the accounting profession brings a high degree of credibility to the measurement of CSR. There are also other options:
LBG Canada: According to their web site ” LBG Canada is a community of companies working toward a higher standard in the management, valuation and performance measurement of community involvement.”
My company Impakthas pioneered a management tool (the Impakt Valuation Tool) that pinpoints the business outcomes of partnerships with non-profits as needed to help managers increase accountability for community investments and identify areas for improvement. We use this tool to help corporations improve reputation, increase differentiation, and lift sales by leveraging their community investment initiatives.
In my experience, it’s the social aspects of corporate responsibility that are hardest to measure. Unlike environmental impact, social and outcomes are both quantitative and qualitative (measuring employee engagement is very different than measuring waste or electricity use). As a result, community investment managers don’t often have the tools to be accountable for their programs and, as a result, aren’t in a position to improve program performance or access more resources.