Boardrooms are replacing CSR with TSI

Boardrooms are replacing CSR with TSI
Boardrooms are replacing CSR with TSI

Total societal impact is the new mantra among businesses that consider an overall benefit to society.


  • Companies are under mounting pressure from stakeholders and customers to play a more active role in addressing social and environmental issues.

  • A TSI approach considers the complete benefit to society from a company's products, services, operations, core capabilities, and activities.

  • Companies that actively rethink on how to improve their TSI stand to reap concrete business rewards.

Companies are increasingly under mounting pressure from a range of stakeholders to play a more active role in addressing social and environmental issues such as global health challenges, climate change, and gender inequality, which go beyond the normal corporate philanthropy. Employees - millennials, in particular - not only want their employers to have a greater sense of purpose, but also seek an active role in a company's societal impact efforts. In addition, customers are increasingly attuned to information related to an organisation's social and environmental impact - information that is shaping their buying decisions.

Moving beyond CSR

Most corporations turn to Corporate Social Responsibility programmes (CSR) to ensure that the organisation and the employees engage in philanthropic activity aimed at addressing local and global initiatives. However, even well-planned regular CSR programmes don't do enough. This is because they don't focus on aligning internal business processes with internal and external sustainability. Total Societal Impact or TSI as it is known enables businesses to capture and assess the economic, social, and environmental impact (both positive and negative) of their products, services, operations, and activities on society and the environment. By implementing TSI to their corporate strategy businesses can improve their products, increase its longevity in the market and a reduce the risk of negative, even cataclysmic, events such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

A business case for TSI

While it may seem like a daunting task to align current strategy with TSI and make a genuine attempt to create a net positive impact, it is imperative. Companies that recognise these shifts and actively rethink on how to improve their TSI will stand to reap concrete business rewards. While it has been said that TSI can be confusing and difficult to quantify, measuring it is actually quite easy if we align on common metrics as a baseline.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) underpinned by 169 targets and 244 indicators, agreed by 193 countries, are the world's to-do list for the next 10 years and are the blueprint to achieve a more sustainable future for all.

Achieving the SDG's requires active participation from the private sector as the impact enablers and a key stakeholder in enabling global sustainability. The SDG parameters are concrete milestones that we can achieve together and provide a globally unified framework for measuring TSI.

Impact = an idea x implementation

A meticulous implementation of TSI strategy will be a clear win-win. Businesses will be able to significantly increase the value of their companies and create strong and loyal customers, while boosting their bottom line. Communities and societies around the world benefit from a higher standard of living. Making a lasting impact for the greater good is great insurance for a company to stick around for the long run.

Darshita Gillies is the Founder and CEO of Maanch, a leading global impact platform, accelerating mobilisation of finance towards long term sustainable solutions.

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