In Conversation with B4SI EMEA Steering Group Chair, Matt Sparkes

Please describe your role as Chair of the EMEA Steering Group. What is the purpose of the Steering Group?

B4SI is a diverse network committed to measuring and reporting social impact in a consistent way. To ensure we get that right, a dozen or so practitioners – representative of the 150+ organisations in membership – meet as a Steering Group four or five times a year. We review changes, suggest enhancements and feed back the views of members. As Chair, I act as a further link between B4SI management and members and also have the privilege of hosting our Annual Conference meetings!

 

What can practitioners expect from Business for Societal Impact? How has Business for Societal Impact changed since you took on the role as Chair? 

We’ve had the core model for many years but over the past 24 months it has changed beyond recognition. We’ve new frameworks for social investment and procurement, we’ve refreshed the events and support offered to members and, of course, we have changed the name! This sets us up to be the definitive measurement and reporting tool for social impact which, at a time when accountability is more important than ever, offers us all huge opportunity. I’m delighted at how the progress we have made so far has been received by our members and look forward to delivering even greater enhancements over the coming years.

 

What trends are you seeing in social impact (and how does Business for Societal Impact facilitate these trends)? 

The unstoppable rise of ESG means we must now ratchet up the profile of B4SI so that among other standards and frameworks, it is recognised as being at the heart of social accountability. Our longstanding partnership with DJSI demonstrates the value of the frameworks and I’ve no doubt that we have a similar role to play elsewhere. Having been established for so long and with such an extensive, global membership, B4SI has a unique data set and understanding of this strand of responsible business and I’m confident that we are well placed to take advantage.

 

What is your biggest personal/professional accomplishment or learning so far?

For those like me who have been involved in responsible business for so long, now feels a pivotal moment and one not without responsibility. Social media and high expectations mean finding one’s own organisation in the spotlight is more likely than ever; scrutiny that in moments can undo years of growth. As sustainability champions, our opportunity to mitigate this risk and influence the direction and behaviours of our core business is significant and, of course, the pandemic has only increased the sense that the time for radical change is now.

This moment, of course, brings pressure to the practitioners we serve and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that B4SI relieves some of the demand. Our challenge is to develop B4SI in a way that provides strong solutions without additional burdens. There are exciting times ahead and, if we get that balance right, B4SI will stand ready to take advantage.

 

What is your motto in life?

One for older readers, I’m afraid* – “Every day and in every way, I’m getting better” (*answers on a postcard!)

 

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