No KPIs, No change! The importance of measuring your sustainability efforts

During a session with our clients on sustainability, one of the participants rightly said, "No KPIs, no change." We couldn't agree more!

When one of our clients commits to a KPI, we know they’re ready to make a serious, positive impact. Without setting KPIs, your Do Good efforts will most probably fail and risk coming across as an empty gesture. Just like KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are used for your core business objectives, they are just as essential for measuring all Do Good topics, from diversity and inclusion to sustainability to corporate citizenship.

Time for a quick lesson on KPIs 🎓  A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.

A good KPI:
❇️ Is more than an arbitrary number. It needs to express something strategic about what your organization is trying to do.
❇️ Needs context to be effective. Explain not just what you’re measuring, but why you’re measuring it.
❇️ Is not useful if it doesn’t get communicated properly (you don’t want to risk losing buy-in!).
❇️ Is not static. Good KPIs evolve, update, and change (we encourage setting structured retrospectives that involve the whole team).

The bottom line 👉 A KPI is only as valuable as the action it inspires. Here are a few examples of using KPIs for Doing Good:

Impact reporting at Starbucks

As part of its core objective to align projects with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Starbucks set a number of KPIs to deliver positive social and environmental outcomes.

The KPIs include:
✅ Number of farmers who participated in C.A.F.E. Practices*
✅ Coffee pounds purchased under verified C.A.F.E. Practices
✅ Amounts loaned through the Global Farmer Fund
✅ Number of farmer support centers opened annually
✅ Percentage of renewable energy coverage for company-operated retail stores

*Starbucks developed its own ethical sourcing third-party verification program, the Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, which promote environmentally responsible growing methods and ensure minimum wages, fair working conditions, economic transparency, and resource management.

After talking to leaders from global front-running companies, we found out what stands in their way from successfully changing their companies from within.

Tracking diversity & inclusion at PwC

Multinational firm PwC conducts rigorous data analysis of their diversity, including an annual diversity analytics process, which measures a total of 28 data points every year. The firm also built a “Global Inclusion Index,” a framework based on both quantitative and qualitative measurements that aims to provide a clear picture of their current diversity efforts, their progress, and where they should be focusing future action. Its KPIs include:

✅ Percentage of female partners
✅ Percentage of female partner admissions
✅ Percentage difference between female and male engagement

PwC’s approach to tracking of diversity and inclusion is impressive and effective, helping to drive leadership accountability and execute a diversity strategy centered on data-driven decisions and measurable progress.

Measuring corporate responsibility at Cisco

One of Cisco’s corporate responsibility goals is to achieve 80% community impact participation by 2020. This is measured by employees’ actions, including volunteering, donating, advocating for causes they care about, and participating in programs that positively impact communities. Cisco’s KPIs for its corporate responsibility efforts include:

✅ Total corporate-wide and foundation cash and in-kind contributions
✅ Number of hours volunteered by employees
✅ Number of active students in Cisco Networking Academy courses
✅ Cisco leaders who share their expertise with nonprofit organizations
✅ Number of countries or regions where Cisco currently invests or manages programs

In 2019, Cisco introduced an initiative called “Conscious Culture,” a set of expectations, principles, and measures that they believe best define the company’s values and beliefs. Under this culture, Cisco is accelerating their efforts on issues like creating more inclusive teams, narrowing the pay gap, and taking a stand for social justice.

👉 Need a hand developing your KPIs? Schedule a call to discover how we can help you.

One solution to all your sustainability challenges.

We believe companies, especially the people within them, are the ones who have the opportunity to draw a positive path forward. Let us show you how.
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