PROJECT ROI: MAKING THE CASE FOR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS PRACTICES​

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The Challenge

Companies are struggling to quantify the impact of CSR on ROI. While many studies exist about the business value of social and environmental programs, CSR and corporate citizenship, most speak to an academic audience. Their methodologies remain unclear and unconvincing to corporate decision makers and investors. Without the credible research to support a business case, senior executives too often must rely on anecdotes, intuition, or faith that these initiatives will support, and not detract from, business performance. As leading companies commit to a wide range of CSR practices, external stakeholders demand greater scope and scale of commitments. Executives need a more convincing business case in order to maintain, and potentially expand, the level of CSR investments their company makes. 

The Response

Project ROI will be led by business. The primary audience for the work will be members of the C-Suite. Senior executives will set the questions that they need answered to find the research credible and persuasive. Project ROI will rigorously and persuasively investigate the potential ROI corporate responsibility (CR) can deliver across share price, revenue, costs, reputation and brand, HR, risk, and license to operate, how a company should structure its CR efforts to deliver ROI, and how to communicate the business case to executives. It will develop a common language and common set of tools to enable senior executives to make the link between sustainability and profitability enterprise-wide.

The Team

The project will be led by IO Sustainability and Babson College, two organizations known for their combination of analytic rigor, experience with business and CR, a pragmatic yet rigorous approach, and an ability to communicate effectively. IO’s founders Steve Rochlin and Stephen Jordan have built an internationally known reputation and have led initiatives and published leading research on CR measurement. The Babson College team will be led by Professor of Finance Richard Bliss and Cheryl Kiser​, executive director of The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation and The Babson Social Innovation Lab. Bliss is a former CFO. His current work includes research and application into the financial outcomes from social innovation. Kiser leads Babson’s work in integrating social innovation and social value creation into both curricular and cocurricular activities with a particular lens on the alignment between shareholder and stakeholder value.

Verizon and the Campbell Soup Company have joined this landmark initiative as lead sponsors. We invite your company to join Babson College and IO Sustainability on Project ROI.