Understanding Social Footprint

Everyone Social Footprint is the impact that a company’s social policies have on the world, such as its employees, its partners (including its subcontractors) and the society as a whole. It’s the idea that there can be no long-term economic performance – i.e. growth and profitability – if there isn’t a synergy between three types of footprints: economic, environmental and social.

  • The economic footprint refers to the economic performance.
  • The environmental footprint refers to the fact that there can be no business without protecting the environment and the resources that surround a company.
  • The social footprint is the realization of the positive and negative externalities of a company on its ecosystem. If the ecosystem is not well, the company cannot develop itself sustainably. From an economic standpoint, that’s what we are going through today: there is a crisis of liquidity and a problem in terms of financing companies. Socially, unemployment and education have an impact as well.

Beyond that, if companies do not weigh on their ecosystem to make it evolve, they will have a hard time implementing social policies within their own companies, because the ecosystem will limit them.

a) Is social footprint really taken into account during these times of crisis?More and more, yes, even though it’s not called such. Take the LH Forum for instance (France’s first international forum dedicated to a positive and responsible economy, that took place on September 13th and 14th). Times where full employment and no downsizing were the rule are long gone. We are now in a more complicated period where one needs to renew oneself.

b) How does social footprint differ from Corporate Social Responsibility?In the collective unconscious, CSR either refers to a group of programs that are meant to repair, or to the generosity of a company that has succeeded. Social footprint, in turn, has become a strategic lever. In times of crisis, I will freeze programs that are not important. But if the social footprint is considered as a strategic lever, it will be perennial. But we need to be cautious: social footprint is different from company to company.

c) Why is social footprint specific to each company?It depends on the business plan and the branch of activity. A company that works in high value services like Accenture cannot have the same social footprint as an industrial or chemical company. Forcing companies into having the same social footprint through institutional constraints for instance, is a fundamental strategic mistake, one that is counter productive economically and in terms of social dialogue.

In Sp1ndex we are developing trategies and setting parameters that will evolve as the conversation around social footprint moves forward. There can be social footprints that are more focused on some points than others. The aim is not to cover everything if it doesn’t correspond to Company branch of activity and to its business plan. Sp1ndex rather try to improve a specific social footprint inside the path settled by its Exceutives.