Forum Product Social Metrics 2017

June 2017

By Willemijn Brouwer, DSM

The members of Roundtable for Product Social Metrics and PRé Sustainability organized the Product Social Metrics Forum on June 26th in Park 20|20 — an innovative location in the vicinity of Schiphol Airport, which integrates the principles of Cradle-to-Cradle and the Circular Economy. More than 30 representatives from international companies, academics and the non-profit sector were present. Among them, member companies of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics such as BASFCovestroDSMPhilipsSolvay and Steelcase.

This year we broke the record with the number of participating guest companies: ABNAMRO, Arcadis, ASML, Corbion, Engie, Givaudan, NN and Schiphol Group all affirmed through their presence that the topic of social metrics is becoming increasingly relevant for many different organizations.

The Forum started with an introduction about the history and achievements of earlier phases of the Roundtable by Mark Goedkoop from PRé. All participants got the opportunity to introduce themselves and share their specific interest for the day. The energy and willingness to learn from each other resulted in passionate discussions around 3 different cases from Solvay/Nestlé, Steelcase/Covestro and BASF. The companies shared practical experiences on the extension of the current methodology with small-holder farmers, new approaches in data collection and social impact assessments.

The group collaborated more intensively during the second part of the program, when participants split up in small groups to discuss the link between social metrics and various societal trends and international policies such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Circular Economy and ISO Standards.

The Forum ended with a panel discussion that combined both the academic as the non-profit bird’s eye view on the importance of social metrics. Liesbeth Unger from Human@Work explained how the UN Guiding Principles of Business & Human Rights provide an useful framework that can be linked to the key drivers of the methodology. Meanwhile Prof. dr. André Nijhof (Nyenrode University) and Prof. dr,. Marzia Traverso (Aachen University) discussed how social metrics generate a commitment to materialize your impact. Lastly, Josée vd Hoek of Finch@Beak looked at the benefits for account development and innovation.

Conclusions of the day were that measuring social impact is still a challenge for all companies and it is good to develop together a common method and vocabulary and to share experiences.

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Introduction and plans for next phase

Case Smallholder Farmers (Nestlé & Solvay)

Case Coatings (Covestro & Steelcase)

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