IMM Drives Corporate Engagement

Key takeaways from our e-talk on corporate impact measurement and management.

Corporate Impact Measurement and Management

On Wednesday 20 March, Impact Europe hosted the “Corporate Impact Measurement and Management” e-talk, with speakers Clodagh Connolly (Business for Societal Impact), Alan Barbieri (The Human Safety Net), Daniela Pereira (MC Sonae - Missão Continente) and Lucinda Webber (Sanofi). Looking into the role of impact measurement and management (IMM) in a corporate setting, the discussion was organised around two main topics: IMM’s role in mobilising additional resources and its influence on the corporate journey.

IMM has proven to be important for investors who strive for social and environmental change. In a corporate setting, there is an additional layer at play: as a corporate social investor (CSI), the key stakeholder relationship to manage is the one with the related company.


How can IMM be leveraged to mobilise more resources towards corporate social investors?

Clodagh Connolly, from Business for Societal Impact (B4SI), kicked the discussion off by highlighting the importance of recognising the different needs of stakeholders and tailoring impact accordingly, to effectively drive change within a business. Certain stakeholders, such as sustainability teams, are often constrained for time due to short-term business cycles, requiring concise and immediate metrics to demonstrate positive impact. The use of short-term indicators does not, however, entail compromising on the long-term vision. For companies in the B4SI network, it is key to maintain programmatic integrity while selecting impact metrics tailored to different audiences, balancing short-term impact assessments with the overarching mission of the organisation.

This view was shared by Alan Barbieri, from The Human Safety Net (THSN), who added that meaningful impact often requires time to manifest, as was the case for early-childhood development, a key programmatic area of THSN. Through regular reporting, including quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal data, THSN proved short-term progress towards long-term impactful results. Decision makers took notice, and THSN's budget tripled in size over five years. Still, Alan recognises that monitoring alone is insufficient; there must be an evaluation strategy implemented over time, while incorporating the short-term metrics that inform and influence business decisions quickly and effectively. He emphasised that lacking short-term immediate results does not necessarily indicate lack of success.

Concluding the first part of the discussion, Daniela Pereira, from Sonae Missão Continente, pointed to the need of ensuring transparent communication of impact results. By demonstrating the tangible contributions of investments to decision-makers, and positively influencing their perception of CSIs, additional resources and support can be mobilised in the long-term. In the case of MC Sonae, the continuous generation of impact results played a crucial role in unlocking long-term management of additional resources. Results also kept corporate stakeholders engaged, while illustrating the sustained value generated by investments and fostering an ongoing commitment from its related company, Continente.


Influencing the corporate impact journey

According to Clodagh, a shared value approach to positive impact – the simultaneous pursuit of financial success and social benefits – is key, as it bridges a core business’s capacities and objectives. In their framework, B4SI reflects three ways in which corporates in the network are responding and implementing the shared value approach:

1. community investment through intentional spending for positive social impact,

2.diversion of procurement spending towards social good, by leveraging B4SI’s financial power and integrating social responsibility into their operations while advancing their core objectives and

3. business innovation through the development of products and services that benefit both business and society.

THSN’s connection with Generali represents an example of shared commitments and mutual influence. Generali is a global insurance company whose foundation, THSN, aims to empower disadvantaged individuals and families worldwide through community-based programs and partnerships. THSN used Generali’s sustainability framework as an entry point to influence the core business, as both corporate and CSI share a commitment to social responsibility and inclusive business practices.

Through Generali’s four pillars – responsible 1) insurer, 2) investor, 3) employer and 4) citizen – THSN is in a unique position to advance the company’s sustainability commitments by contributing with inclusive insurance products, impact investing tools and inclusive hiring practices. This way, THSN scales Generali’s impact solutions.

Influence can result from high standards in reporting. In 2023, Sonae Missão Continente’s impact report won the European Excellence Award for Annual Report & CSR Report. According to Daniela, this external recognition put them in a position to set the bar high on transparency and reporting practices within Sonae Group, leading to greater comparability and better impact performance.

For Sanofi’s Global Health Unit, Lucinda clarified their objectives: providing access to key essential medicines and contributing to strengthen healthcare systems in 40 countries, with diverse approaches to achieve these objectives in scenarios where a pure commercial approach is not adequate. Sanofi established a theory of change aligning these activities to outcomes. Outcomes are then linked through a common measurement framework that outlines a standardised measurement methodology, facilitating the assessment of progress and outcomes across the unit as whole.


Next steps

IMM has proven to accelerate positive impact, yet it is still an underexplored area among corporate impact actors. See our library of IMM insights for more cases and thought-leadership on how it enhances accountability, improves performance, fosters stakeholder engagement and ensures long-term sustainability. If you were not able to attend this e-talk, check out the recording.