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Using the Social Progress Index

Working together to drive progress

Business has an important role to play in driving true growth, but it cannot and should not, do it alone. The Social Progress Index acts as a road map to guide policy makers and business leaders’ investment, collaboration and resourcing decisions.

Opportunities overview

The annual global Social Progress Index, as well as regional, municipal and community sub-national social progress indices, help organisations to engage with social progress. A Social Progress Index can identify the areas of social progress that they can best make an impact on. Actions may range from investment and social impact projects, to analysing which elements of risk to mitigate or investigate further.

The SPI is far more than rankings and statistics. The core of its mission is to understand what the data tells us and how we can act differently as a result in order to make an impact. The ‘INDEX to ACTION to IMPACT’ approach allows the SPI framework to be applied and measured.

Governments and business leaders across the globe are using the Social Progress Index to measure the issues relevant to the society in which they operate, applying the data to create innovative solutions:

  • In May 2017, the Institute for Competitiveness India, together with SPI, announced a multi-year endeavour to assess progress in India’s 29 states, followed by 50 cities and 562 districts. The India Index will enable policy makers to understand and take action on key priority areas.
  • The government of Paraguay is the first national government to adopt the Social Progress Index, now uses the framework to define, monitor and evaluate its national development plan and establish priorities for its $15 billion budget.
  • Forestry company Masisa is looking beyond job creation as a measure of success and using the Social Progress Index to explore how well Chilean communities are faring as a result of their investments and workforce engagement.
  • Breckinridge Capital Advisors is using the Index to support analysis of the U.S. municipal bond market allowing them to identify cities and counties that are likely to exhibit long-term creditworthiness, offering higher returns and lower risk for investors.
  • Win-Win is working on strategies to deliver actionable insight using SPI Framework to map public, private and social organisations and top funders across Washington, California, Massachusetts and Michigan, with plans to expand to 100 regions globally by 2018.

Sub-national indices

As well as providing a global overview of social progress at a national level using the Social Progress Index, SPI’s comprehensive and flexible methodology can be used to provide tailored, granular insight into the performance of regions, cities and even communities.

Examples of sub-national indices:

Regional indices: 

  • The EU Regional Social Progress Index reveals the different levels of societal wellbeing across the 272 NUTS-2 regions of the European Union. This will give the EU Commission a holistic view of performance, informing regional development strategies and allowing best practice to be shared across comparable regions. The beta version was released for comment ahead of its official launch by the Commission in October 2016.
  • The Índice de Progreso Social Cantonal (Social Progress Index for Cantons of Costa Rica) maps the social performance in each of Costa Rica’s 81 cantons. Supported by the Presidential Council on Innovation and Talent, its purpose is to facilitate communication across sectors about public- private interventions and promote human development, social progress, competitiveness and social innovation in the country. Each canton can more effectively prioritise its activities, co-ordinate with the central government, share learnings with other comparable cantons and create partnerships to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This sub-national Index also provides a public database that empowers civil society with analysis relevant to each canton, improving the transparency of both data and government decisions.
  • City indices: Two types of pioneering cities index have been developed in Colombia. By measuring the social progress of 14 Colombia cities over the course of 5 years and then within the capital Bogota itself, a powerful data-set has emerged. A joint project between non-profit groups and business, with a strong interest from government, this work has brought sectors together round the table to discuss how to collectively drive social progress.
  • Community indices: Natura and Coca Cola, used a sub-national index to measure and enhance their social impact. They created an index for local communities in the Amazon region of Brazil, using the social progress framework and polling data collected by IPSOS Mori, focussing on areas that were critical to a product in their supply chain. They used the results to ensure their CSR programmes were addressing the right challenges, identified new areas in which to advance progress and developed strong links with local government, community leaders and regional non-profits.

These indices can identify the areas of social progress that need the most focus by a client, across any sector. Actions may range from investment and social impact projects, to analysing which elements of risk to mitigate or investigate further.

Local Social Progress Networks

The complexity of the big societal challenges demands collaboration. Private, public and civil sectors must work together to drive social progress.

The Social Progress Index can act as a catalyst. At the national and local level, the Index’s results are bringing together business, government and civil society to find innovative solutions to societal challenges.

Deloitte is taking a key role, bringing together clients and stakeholders to influence the global debate on how we measure what matter most, holding client events that range from c-suite round-tables to workshops on SPI’s methodology.

Deloitte member firms are part of national Social Progress Networks in a number of countries. These organisations bring together non-profits, government bodies, multinational companies and academic institutions to address social progress at the national, regional or local level.

Using the Social Progress framework, parties from business, government and civil society are able to identify the best available and best suited, indicators, to measure local wellbeing, focussing on the things that truly matter to their community, city or region.

Having built a localised social progress index, the Social Progress Network can concentrate on using their ecosystem to target further research, promote awareness, engage additional collaborators, raise investment or deliver projects in the key areas of weakness highlighted by the Index.