Smart Innovators: Social Impact Solutions

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Executive Summary

Over the past few years, social impact has risen in prominence, due to global events and mega-trends changing the ways that firms operate, as well as growing attention being paid to the social pillar that comprises part of the ESG scores for investment decision-making. This report provides a benchmark of social impact solutions as part of a broader ESG ecosystem. The study defines the scope of social impact solutions and assesses the capabilities of 46 social impact solutions providers for corporate buyers seeking to enhance their social impact, drive purpose within their firms and offer a better employee experience. Verdantix analysis finds that a wide variety of software vendors are operating in the social impact solutions space. The four categories of social impact solutions defined in the research are: 1) diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); 2) corporate philanthropy and social impact investment; 3) stakeholder engagement; and 4) employee experience. CSR, ESG, human resources (HR) and sustainability functions should use this report to inform the adoption and integration of social impact solutions into their digital ESG ecosystems.

Table of contents

Social Impact Solutions Grow Into Their ESG Pillar 
Key Events Over The Last Two Years Have Brought Social Issues To The Fore
Social Impact Should Not Be A Second Thought For Corporates
Firms Need To Implement An Effective System Of Record To Measure Their Social Impact

Social Impact Solutions Give Much-Needed Breadth To Digital ESG Strategies 
Social Impact Requirements Map To Four Core Capabilities
Harnessing Internal Capabilities Can Help Corporate Selection In A Scattered Solution Landscape

Table of figures

Figure 1. Composition Of The Social Pillar Of ESG  
Figure 2. Social Performance Is Seen As A Priority In The 2021 Verdantix Global Corporate Survey  
Figure 3. Frameworks To Measure Social Impact  
Figure 4. Social Impact Solutions Capabilities & Definitions  
Figure 5. Categories Of Social Impact Solutions Software Providers  
Figure 6-1. Social Impact Solutions Capabilities Assessment 
Figure 6-2. Social Impact Solutions Capabilities Assessment 
Figure 6-3. Social Impact Solutions Capabilities Assessment 

About the authors

Guy Lewis

Analyst
Guy is an analyst in the ESG and Sustainability Practice. Prior to joining Verdantix, he worked at Bulb helping to optimise member experience as part of their renewable energy offering. He gained knowledge in operations and smart technologies. Guy holds a BA in Geography from the University of Manchester, with a placement year at the University of Queensland.

Kim Knickle

Research Director, ESG & Sustainability

Kim leads the Verdantix ESG & Sustainability practice, addressing business challenges and priorities in ESG and sustainability through technology and services. Her current research agenda focuses on ESG regulatory and market drivers, sustainability reporting, risk management, supply chain sustainability, circular economy, social impact.  Knickle has worked for more than 20 years in the IT industry, providing research and analysis to help companies invest wisely in new technologies. Before joining the analyst industry, she held various roles in IT services, engineering, and product safety testing, beginning her career at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.  Knickle holds a MBA from Boston University and a BS in electrical engineering from Cornell.

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