Most people may be aware that to my knowledge I’m the only freelance consultant globally to openly and annually publish a social impact report on myself. And while it attracts widespread interest and applause every time I do, I always struggle to make sense of how well the framework I’ve developed is ‘fit for purpose’ (there is no reporting standard for sole traders), and how far I should take pride in my ‘results’ (no other freelance consultants’ generate impact reports to hold mine against).
While I’ve started to make some firm plans for addressing the bench-marking of results question from next year, I took the opportunity to take the Social Value Self Assessment Tool to see how well I’ve actually thought through my framework, measures, and overall approach - https://socialvalueselfassessmenttool.org
Like all ‘multiple choice quizzes’ there’s some assumptions and bias in the questions which I recognise – it assumes that you’re incorporated with staff (I’m not), that you have ongoing contact with a core group of customers (I very rarely do), and that you have a small number of activities you offer support through (I have lots…). However, it’s a useful starting point and echoes some of what I already suspected: that I’m highly transparent, but struggle to engage stakeholders over the long-term and so have access to wider data sets to help identify how far my contributions contributed to the final generated impacts clients tell me about:
So – an overall ‘score’ of 56% may not seem great. But the tool allows you to benchmark your overall result against a number of others by sector, turnover, and type of activity.
Bench-marking my result against these others in this way suddenly shows that actually 56% means I’m still showing leading practice in how I’m going about reporting my social impacts:
- Similar aged businesses to mine = 30%
- Private businesses in general = 31%
- Other businesses with a similar turnover to me = 34%
- Other businesses offering enterprise support = 21%
- All UK based organisations = 33%
So – all in all, still room for improvement (which stops me getting complacent), but potentially ‘top of the class’?