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Guide your company’s sustainability journey

3

KEY CHALLENGES

3.1

MATERIALITY

ANALYSIS

3.2

External Reporting

3.3

Mapping Stakeholder Expectations

3.4

Sustainability Training

3.5

Human rights

3.6

Social Innovation

Responsible R&D?

WHAT IS IT?

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

IDEAL SCENARIO

3.6

SOCIAL INNOVATION

RESOURCES FOR
THE JOURNEY

GOOD PRACTICES

WHAT IS IT?

 

Social innovation is, according to the European Commission, new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social need (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations.1

 

 

1 Open Book of Social Innovation, Murray, Calulier-Grice and Mulgan, March 2010

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

 

CSR Europe believes that social innovation is a basic characteristic of the enterprise of the future. Enterprise 2020 is the flagship program putting this into practical terms.

 

Strong arguments for social innovation-based R&D of products and services include:

  • Cluster-based cooperative innovation approaches are becoming increasingly vital to generating new ideas that can then be further developed within companies.
  • Integrating a societal focus in the innovation process can unlock new markets, lead to revenue growth and enhance company reputation.
  • New ideas frequently come from consumers, suppliers, partners, research institutions or even from regulators.

IDEAL SCENARIO

 

Social innovation was one sustainability metric among the 17 defined for the MIA assessment. This topic is not an aspect of the GRI G4 framework. CSR Europe made this edition as our philosophy about expecting more form companies on this front, which is also mirrored by our Enterprise2020 vision. Companies were asked to score on six management maturity factors regrouped in the policy, performance management and reporting categories (see the ideal situation of each factor listed in table below).

MIA RESULTS

 

The overall result shows that social innovation as defined for the purpose of this assessment is not one
of the organisation-wide ‘management process agenda’ of companies in the pilot. This does not mean however that they are doing nothing on the topic. It means that new business models are on the radars of upper-management (integrated to a policy, KPI, or top management performance measure), and tested in spin-off ventures or funds (such as the Danone Ecosystem Fund) where companies are taking leadership roles.

Nonetheless, the answers on management maturity of social innovation and its categorisation as a non-strategic issue tell us that internalisation of this important lever of sustainable development as a whole is still to take place (for an outlook on internalisation see chapter 4 The Next Frontier).

TRENDS

 

MIA pilot companies discussed this topic extensively in the workshop held in January 2015. The points below reflect the outcomes of that discussion:

  • Sustainable value chains can be achieved only through sustainable Research & Development, by taking CSR to the heart of the products and not only processes.
  • The purpose of social innovation should be how to solve / eradicate persisting societal issues and create new opportunities
  • We should not be talking about social innovation, but rather about sustainable development
  • We should not be talking about innovation, but rather about pure product development (for such an approach see Solvay`s SPM tool below)

RESOURCES FOR THE JOURNEY

 

Since we are talking about an intrinsically different business model than most large companies are built on, testing initiatives in spin-off ‘labs’ seems to be an appropriate approach. An essential element, enabling innovation to happen is to build avenues allowing lessons learned to be translated into group-level long-term corporate planning.

 

Activating employee innovation potential in such testing phases via intrapreneurship may be a good approach to prepare your workforce for corporate culture and business model changes in the long-term.

 

 

 

GOOD PRACTICES

 

Solvay - Sustainable Portfolio Management (SPM)

 

Danone - Ecosystem Fund