Corporations have a major role to play in social investment. By looking for social investment opportunities aligned with the business and its operations, companies can create value for society, reinforce business objectives and create value for shareholders.
Traditionally, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes have focused on ensuring compliance with ethical standards, promoting sustainable business practices, and making charitable donations, and are often kept at arm’s length from a business’ strategy. However, corporations have a platform to do far more, and are in a unique position to both supply and deploy capital in social investments. Oliver Wyman’s research for Big Society Capital (see “About the Research” on page 11) highlights the direct and indirect investment vehicles that are already being successfully used, such as social funds, social impact bonds and corporate venture capital.
Social investment provides companies with the opportunity to pursue new business opportunities that also tackle major social issues. Barriers to engagement such as lack of visibility, mandates, and cultural mindsets that consider CSR programmes to be separate to core business can be overcome - key to this is connecting to the wider network of organisations that are involved in and support social investment. In a relatively new industry, by providing both funding and skills, and by pursuing social investments in their core business, corporations are able to generate truly shared value.