Measuring Business Impacts on People’s Well-being and Sustainability
What is the contribution of business to people’s and communities’ well-being? How do businesses impact their environment and how sustainable are their practices? The OECD Statistics and Data Directorate is expanding its work on measuring well-being at the country level to include the business community.
Business have a significant impact on people’s lives, whether as employees, consumers, suppliers, investors or the broader society. Although there are an increasing number of actors examining how companies impact on well-being and create value beyond financial wealth, there is no common agreement on how to measure these impacts. As a result, the performance of businesses in areas of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) as well as other dimensions of well-being, remain hard to examine and learn from. This new strand of work aims to create a common base of understanding on how to measure the impact of businesses on well-being, and how to compare the existing tools and frameworks.
Publications and ongoing work
Business for Inclusive Growth Platform– a coalition of businesses, coordinated by the OECD and chaired by Danone, aiming to increase opportunities for disadvantaged and under-represented groups through retraining and upskilling, as well as promote diversity on the companies’ boards and executive committees and to tackle inequalities throughout their supply chains. They will also step up business action to advance human rights, build more inclusive workplaces and strengthen inclusion in their internal and external business ecosystems. Read the Business Pledge Against Inequalities here.
Compendium of Selected Papers on Measuring the Impacts of Business on Well-Being and Sustainability (2018) This compendium shows of selected papers from the Call for Papers issued by the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate, together with HEC Paris/SnO Centre to develop and support research on Measuring the Impact of Business on Well-being is now available. The papers make the case for greater standardisation and harmonisation of corporate reporting practices (Delmas and Durand), point at the limited disclosure of information on business impacts on the environment and on national communities and the potential for convergence around SDGs and well-being (Itay-Sarig; Beer and Aujogue; Betti et al). In addition, they link existing indicators of business impacts on various dimensions of well-being and propose new ones (Strauss and Chlapaty), and provide evidence on the determinants of employees’ job satisfaction. Limits of current measures, in particular in terms of their capacity to stimulate new experiences and improve well-being outcomes for specific groups are also examined (Weziak-Bialowolska et al). Finally, the papers provide examples of how country-level well-being approaches could be used as a starting point for business reporting (Leung and Liu), building on New Zealand’s approach to improving government and business interactions through shared concepts of well-being (Burton et al).
Measuring the impact of businesses on people’s well-being and sustainability - Taking stock of existing frameworks and initiatives (2018) This OECD working paper presents an overview of the various kinds of frameworks aimed at measuring or reporting on business’ impact on non-financial outcomes. It shows that despite the proliferation of information and frameworks to measure these impacts, there is currently no common understanding and practice on how to assess the performance of businesses in different social and environmental areas. Building on the OECD’s work on measuring well-being at the national level, the paper aims at better understanding how businesses can impact people’s well-being and sustainability, applying the “well-being lens” to the reviewed frameworks. This analysis is a first attempt at extending to businesses the approach used by the Organisation to assess and benchmark the well-being performance of countries and sub-national regions, in view of creating a common language and improving the quality, comparability, and coherence of information on the impact of businesses on societal progress and people’s life.
Guidelines on Measuring the Quality of the Working Environment (2017) This publication presents an internationally agreed set of guidelines for producing more comparable statistics on the quality of the working environment, a concept that encompasses all the non-pecuniary aspects of one's job, and is one of the three dimensions of the OECD Job Quality framework. These Guidelines take stock of current data availability in this field, review the analytic and policy uses of these measures, proposes a conceptual framework based on 6 dimensions and 17 characteristics (ranging from physical risk factors and work intensity, through to task discretion, autonomy and opportunities for self-realisation), assesses the statistical quality of measures in this field, and provides guidance to data producers and users on methodological challenges in this field. These Guidelines also include a number of prototype surveys modules that national and international agencies could use in their surveys.