Hi, we are Ben Fowler and Erin Markel, CEO and Chief Growth Officer respectively at MarketShare Associates (MSA), a global social impact consulting company. There is growing recognition of the private sector’s enormous potential to create (as well as to threaten) social impact. However, a range of issues have traditionally challenged the ability of those actors to effectively capture the impact that they are creating. With funding from the US government and led by DAI, we at MSA have been undertaking research to better understand how the private sector measures social inclusion and its return on investment (ROI). This began by developing a framework for the research. We then reviewed close to 100 publicly available reports, studies, and articles, as well as around 80 case studies, and conducted interviews with a range of experts that we summarized in a short brief.
- The private sector is diverse. When diving into the evidence, we found important differences in what matters for private investors, public companies, and private firms in measuring social inclusion. The aspects of social inclusion that are more commonly measured are presented in the table below.
The following graphic outlines what types of social inclusion results each of these groups commonly measure.
2. It is unrealistic to expect a single, standardized, universal framework and/or set of metrics to emerge for measuring social inclusion that is relevant for all stakeholders. Different interests, reporting requirements and audiences shape what’s measured among the stakeholders. Accordingly, there is a proliferation of frameworks and metrics that speak to and are used by these different groups. Three key social inclusion strategies have a strong existing evidence base informing the ROI in developing country contexts: safety and gender-based violence prevention, workplace culture and benefits, and talent. Conversely, there were three significant gaps. These included the strategies of leadership, supply chain diversity and targeting female consumers. These are surprising given that often the private sector is specifically seeking to enhance its impact on social inclusion via working with its suppliers and customers.
To build on these findings, we are developing a set of guidance materials on the key social inclusion strategies and practices applied in the developing world as well as an interactive tool on how to measure the financial outcomes of social inclusion for businesses.
- Markel, Erin and Friederike Strub (MarketShare Associates). How the Private Sector Measures Social Inclusion and its Return on Investment: A Framework to Inform Future Research Washington: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP), 2021.
- Markel, Erin and Friederike Strub (MarketShare Associates). The Return on Investment of Social Inclusion: An Evidence Gap Analysis from Developing Countries. Washington: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP), 2021.
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