What is a Social Impact Consultancy?
By Hind Dihan
When graduating from university and looking for job opportunities in the communications industry, I was bombarded by the various types of agencies I could work for. The choices included luxury lifestyle, crisis communications, travel, and hospitality, or FMCG. What drew me to Skating Panda was its focus as a social and environmental impact consultancy. After three years of studying International Relations, focusing on gender and LGBTQIA+ issues, I was keen to join a company that placed impact and purpose at the heart of its work.
But social impact isn’t as simple as I once thought and understanding how to apply it to clients has been a learning curve I’ve had to navigate.
What is social impact?
Initially, it might seem to be about transforming society in a positive way. But there is more to it than simply the surface level.
Social impact is about making a real impact that continues long after a project finishes, the project KPIs have been met, and the client evaluation is complete. At Skating Panda that means creating real sustainable change, whether that be for women’s rights, health, education, or the environment.
Most importantly, real social impact means building systemic change which includes:
- Behaviour change: compelling shifts in people’s everyday habits
- Perception change: transforming public opinion, discourse, and worldview
- Legislative and policy change: shaping political outcomes and decision-making processes in institutions and governments
- Infrastructure change: forming new channels and processes to enable how change happens
For companies like Skating Panda, impact isn’t just a flash in the pan. Social impact is about the slow burn – achieving change through sustained commitment, not a one-off project.
How does a social impact consultancy like Skating Panda operate?
Every company will work a little differently. I’ve learnt that at Skating Panda, this means combining strategy, creativity, and communication to guide our clients on how to accelerate their social and environmental impact.
First, we help our clients understand the larger context around the work they want to complete. Without understanding the complex social ecosystem, long-term impact cannot be achieved.
Additionally, we use the United National Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to assess and measure how we can help our clients accelerate positive change in the world. Based on the client’s needs, we choose which goals must be focused on, and work to understand how the project can contribute to those goals.
And we don’t follow a one size fits all approach to measuring impact – after all, the world is too complicated to be that black and white. Thus, when measuring impact, we work with each of our clients to determine what success should look like and how best to report metrics and beyond.
Walk the Talk
It’s not enough to try and generate change – we need to also ensure that we practise what we preach, and there are always greater ways to improve. For Skating Panda, becoming B-Corp certified was important to us because we must formally report on the real impact we create and thus hold ourselves accountable. Then, we can see how much we’ve achieved and what we need to do in the future.
To learn more about how we can advance your organisation’s social or environmental impact, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org