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Maximising social impact: where companies are investing and how to go beyond

How to increase business social impact - group in community talks

Businesses like yours invest in CSR and ESG to make a difference in their community, to demonstrate company values, and to ensure business continuity and a positive relationship with employees, customers, and investors. But what areas are UK organisations investing in? And how could they have an even greater impact on the communities they serve?

We recently surveyed over 300 UK-based decision-makers in CSR and ESG to understand where they are focusing their CSR and ESG efforts and investment. We learnt that while businesses are delivering considerable impact through their environmental activity and for their employees, there is still a huge opportunity for businesses to increase their social impact on communities. Here is how:

The role of S in Sustainability

Insight: 74% of businesses focus on environmental sustainability

Addressing climate concerns is a big priority, with most companies using their ESG or CSR budgets to reduce their impact on the environment through changes to their business model, supply chain, and processes. But there are other ways in which businesses can drive long-term change and deliver environmental benefits – for instance, by changing the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of consumers and the community.

Action: Why not educate young people and the wider community about how to address climate change? Alternatively, your business could help young people develop the knowledge and skills they’ll need to take on careers in sustainability.


Creating a healthier Society

Insight: 69% invest in mental health

This high percentage likely reflects the fact that supporting employees’ mental health has become the norm. With record incidence and greater awareness of mental illness, what more can companies do?

Action: Consider how you can support the mental health of your employees’ families and children too – for example, by equipping them with tools to identify and manage emotions and mental health early in life (check out our suggestion for the how).


Social inclusion from the Start

Insight: 68% work on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Companies are mostly trying to address these issues within their own workforce. There is an opportunity to go further: the lack of diversity in your business reflects a lack of access to opportunities earlier in people’s lives.

Action: Your organisation can support inclusion before people enter the workforce. Consider: How do inequalities in careers education and in exposure to different careers affect young people’s choices? What kind of financial literacy is available to children in poorer households? What can you do to provide more opportunities for underserved groups in STEM, physical activity, or other key areas?


S means more than Staff

Insight: 64% focus their efforts on employees

Organisations truly committed to making a difference can extend their actions beyond their workforce.

Action: Consider how you can use your budget to address the needs of the wider community – children, young adults, the elderly, parents, schools, or underserved groups. It’s about shared value: what’s good for the community is good for business.

You can also involve your staff in your social impact activity, using it as an opportunity to boost their skills, confidence, and morale. Involving staff in the delivery of education programmes is a proven way of boosting their pride, self-esteem, and understanding of their community.



We encourage you to think about CSR and ESG beyond the (likely virtual) walls of your company offices, and to focus your attention on the Social aspect of your strategy. There’s huge opportunity in the S of ESG to address today’s big issues and to be part of a positive social change.

Want to discuss the S in your ESG?

Our team knows how to deliver meaningful social impact.

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