3 Steps to Developing Your Social Impact Strategy

In the age of cancel culture, do you ever wonder if your company is speaking out enough, or on the right topics? Well, if so, you’re not alone. 

But choosing what social issues to take a stand on – and when to remain silent –  is never an easy decision. Oftentimes, the issues you’re tackling include many complex layers and are emotionally charged. For this reason, it’s important for you to proactively understand the landscape and have a framework in place to help guide decision-making in alignment with your corporate values and brand.  ​

These three steps can help you jumpstart your social impact strategy in 2023. 

Identifying and defining social topics

This is one of the most important steps because it helps you understand the landscape and define the parameters of broad social topics. For example, what does it mean when companies say they champion diversity, equity and inclusion? DEI encompasses everything from race and gender to abilities and age. This wide term can have you spinning in circles before you can get a program off the ground. The same goes for sustainability. 

To avoid this deer-in-headlights situation, defining what each social issue means for your organization can help you better plan and strategize your social impact efforts. 

Prioritizing issues that impact the business

With all of the topics sorted and defined, you must prioritize the issues based on their relevance to your business and your stakeholders. Consider everything from how your stance on social topics impacts stock prices to the expectations that employees, investors and (especially) consumers have for your organization.  

Before you finalize the ranking, ask yourself: has everyone who should weigh in on this done so? Make sure you’ve included diverse voices from various departments in your ranking exercise. 

Start building the foundation

According to a recent study, consumers are more attuned to purpose-washing than ever before. This means your company must walk the talk. The best way to do that is by taking stock of your efforts in corporate giving, volunteerism and community engagement. 

Gather and categorize the data from your organization, paying close attention to initiatives that fall within the priorities you’ve outlined in the previous step. This allows you to show both internal (executive teams and employees) and external (investor and consumer) stakeholders the support you’ve provided to these issues to date. You can also use it to develop key messages and positioning around top issues, forming a solid foundation for you to leverage and sustain programs in the coming year. 

What next? Even with the best of plans, social issues can be difficult to anticipate. Organizations should have a process and tools – such as a scorecard – in place to evaluate and act upon situations as they arise. To ensure that you are prepared, contact our Social Impact team.

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