Social Impact Assessments Help Companies Manage Risks and Opportunities

June 28, 2011
  • Alison Colwell

    Former Associate Director, BSR

With growing stakeholder expectations and increasingly complex operating environments, leading companies recognize the need for a more comprehensive approach to understanding and managing project risks and opportunities that moves beyond regulatory requirements. Social impact assessments (SIA)—the process of analyzing, monitoring, and managing social issues such as resettlement and access to water—can help companies reduce risks, enhance operational decision-making, improve stakeholder relations, maximize community benefits, and secure a company’s license to operate.

To perform an effective SIA, BSR recommends that companies:

  • Consider identification of potential impacts as the first step in an ongoing SIA process to manage negative and positive impacts.
  • Incorporate community participation into the SIA. For example, establish a community environmental committee to monitor impacts.
  • Collect qualitative data in addition to quantitative data to assess longer-term impacts on peoples’ quality of life.
  • Integrate or align the SIA approach with current or new processes to assess human rights impacts.

For more information on SIA, contact me or visit the SIA Hub.

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