Note from Matt Adams: When companies set out to achieve ambitious goals, the why is often more important than the what or the how. I believe this is true for NetBenefit. I hope that this outline of our why provides our community with a better understanding of what drives the NetBenefit team and many of those who work with us.
The Why Behind NetBenefit
We live in a world where social unrest has become common and where inequality within most countries has increased to the highest level in the last thirty years. A statistic that puts the situation into perspective for me, is that between 1995 and 2021, the top 1% of people captured 38% of the global increment in wealth, while the bottom 50% of people captured only 2%. This is according to the 2022 World Inequality Report, which is worth a read if you’re interested in learning about the magnitude of the problem.
This inequality, social unrest, and wealth consolidation is a major problem because it divides us, weakens our communities and perpetuates itself.
This has all been intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current Russian aggression in Ukraine can’t be helping either. Having said that, the world is pushing back on this inequality. People are demanding more transparency and better performance from industry and government. Over the past few years, we’ve seen several movements that were spurred by individual events but represent larger calls for respect and equality. For example, there is the Every Child Matters movement in Canada, which was spurred by the heart-wrenching discovery of thousands of unmarked graves left by the residential schooling system. We saw the explosive growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, women’s rights marches around the world, and other social calls for equality. These movements show that people are not going to stand idle as social and political systems treat them unfairly.
The business world is taking notice of these trends as well. In 2019, some of the world’s largest corporations formally stated that the purpose of a corporation should be to deliver long-term value to all stakeholders of a company, as opposed to delivering value solely to shareholders. The Business Roundtable, made up of the CEOs of the aforementioned corporations, went so far as to say that companies must consider all stakeholders in order to succeed and profit in the long-term. This shift in thinking has companies funnelling resources into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).
With this increased awareness of inequality, we’re also seeing policy put in place with the intention of ensuring that socio-economic outcomes aren’t just good for a select few, but are good for society as a whole. These requirements are seen in Impact Benefit Agreements, Duty to Consult Legislation, Local & Diverse Content Requirements, and Indigenous Benefit Agreements. These instruments have great intentions, but unfortunately, they are only effective with access to accurate data and organized management. More often than not, the performance of ESG initiatives is managed and measured with incomplete data or inaccurate data. This is especially true for socio-economic data, which is a core component of social or the “S” in ESG. This is well-explained in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
At NetBenefit, we’re bridging the data gap that organizations have when attempting to measure their social performance. We’re providing organizations with the tools that they need to accurately track, manage, and improve their socio-economic impact.
Enabling organizations to collect and analyze socio-economic data provides them with a foundation to make better decisions. Governments can make their spending go further by understanding the true impact of their policies and investments. Industry can quantify and improve their socio-economic impact, to the benefit of all their stakeholders. Furthermore, communities can have accurate information to hold industry and government accountable.
We’re helping organizations understand stakeholder and rightsholder relationships, ensure that the commitments they make (or receive) are delivered on, and accurately track their socio-economic impact. We can’t control the decisions that companies, communities, and governments make, but through delivering accurate data, we can make sure that they’re informed when they make them. As a society, we have some work ahead of us to reverse increasing inequality. Using tools like NetBenefit allow us to measure our progress accurately, be transparent, and reverse the trend.
- Matt Adams is the CEO of NetBenefit Software. Based on the east coast of Canada, Matt has spent his career (and more of his social life than he’s willing to admit) in the Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) software space