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The GO Lab was recently part of a team working to develop a new standard guide to social value for Standards Australia. In this news piece, Mehdi Shiva explains the GO Lab's interest in social value standards, our efforts to date, and why we got involved in the SA's latest guide.

Standards for social value

Last year, the British Standards Institute (BSI) accomplished an enormous task, pulling together a wide range of stakeholders to develop a definition of social value. We at GO Lab welcomed this initiative, and released a response to the consultation with some feedback and comments, along with an accompanying blog.

We were eager to contribute to this crowded space without adding more noise. Alongside efforts to promote standardisation and harmonisation of definitions and methods, we explored ways to help users to understand the wide variety of resources available to measure social value. To that end, we have also developed an ‘Impact Wayfinder’, a tool that helps users to navigate through the hundreds of available impact measurement resources, and focus in on those most relevant to their goals.

Global standards

Standardisation creates a common language between and within sectors and across time, place and unit of observation. The best-known standards even go beyond the limits of individual nations. As the next step in our efforts to explore standardisation of social value, we joined the committee of Standards Australia (along with Huber Social, Sweef Capital, and Trust Waikato) earlier this year to produce a new standard guide based on the latest developments in the field.

What is new?

Standards Australia’s (SA) guide builds on the BSI guide, as the team believe in cumulative learning instead of starting from scratch. Like BSI, the SA guide recognises people’s wellbeing as the ultimate measure of impact, while acknowledging that wellbeing requires many different inputs to be achieved.

The main difference is probably the objective of the new guide. While the BSI guide is focused on how to 'enhance' social value (i.e. impact management and decision making), the SA guide mainly focuses on how to 'measure' social impact, to provide clarity on the rigour of measurement going into decision-making and management.

The SA guide advocates against a one-size-fits-all approach in measurement and promotes customisation based on different cultures and contexts. Involving stakeholders in the measurement process, by learning about their wants and preferences, is also endorsed as a key component in achieving sustainable solutions.

Get involved

We believe this guide is another stepping-stone towards understanding alternative measures for prosperity and progress. The guide is entitled ‘SA HB 204, Measuring Social Value – guidance on approach and methodologies’ and is currently open for public comments (till 3rd December 2021). We invite you to read and comment on this document.