Back in 1999, in the early days of Social Venture Network (SVN), I was the “measurement” contributor to a distinguished team that offered input into what became the very first standards for corporate social responsibility (CSR). As I was preparing this Measurement Advisor issue, I came across that work and realized that it is still very much relevant today.

So I’ve summarized the standards and their respective measures, and added some suggestions for specific metrics. If you are evaluating a CSR program, the table below will help you identify which measures and metrics will suit your individual situation. All the best with your project! (And, I would love to hear from you about your CSR measurement experiences.)

CSR Activity Measures and Outcome Metrics

CSR Principle Activity Measures Outcome Metrics
  • Effective code of conduct established
  • Statistics documenting ethics training & stakeholder involvement in ethics initiatives
  • Active and documented system of recognition for employees who make difficult ethical decisions
  • Evidence of punishment for those who disregard code of conduct
  • % of employee population knowing and understanding code of ethics
  • Increase in scores on ethical audits
  • % increase in stakeholders perceiving company as ethical
  • % reduction in ethical violations
  • Evaluation of assessments by external stakeholder and third-party organizations
  • Quality and quantity of both required and voluntary disclosures
  • Number and nature of meetings held with stakeholders
  • Number and nature of communications from stakeholders
  • % increase in stakeholder/investor satisfaction scores on disclosure & responsiveness
  • % reduction in lawsuits and violations for inadequate disclosure
  • Corporate governance code that meets or exceeds industry standards
  • Regular board of directors and management assessments of stakeholder impacts and approaches
  • Increase in number of independent board members
  • Number of board resolutions generated by stakeholders and response by board
  • Compensation of CEO and senior management based on social performance factors
  • Tangible incentive for employees to consider stakeholder interest and impacts in their daily decisions
  • % improvement in trust and relationship scores with key stakeholder groups
  • % increase in satisfaction scores among stakeholders
  • % of stakeholders who agree that “This organization takes the opinion of people like me into account when it makes decisions.”
Financial Returns
  • Revenue growth
  • Return on equity
  • Debt-to-equity ratio
  • After tax income
  • Growth in net income
  • Earnings per share
  • Profitability and margins
  • Healthy cashflow
  • Return on capital
  • % increase in revenue per employee
  • % increase in market share
  • % increase in “buy” recommendations
Employment Practices
  • Number of jobs provided, and new jobs created by type and salary level
  • Personnel promotions by type of job and salary level
  • Ratio of internal to external hires and promotions
  • Percentage of work force with medical insurance, paid leave, and other benefits
  • Comparison of benefits and wages between full time and part time employees
  • Presence of work life balance programs such as flextime, job sharing, and child care
  • Number and type of employees with profit sharing or other incentive plan
  • Percentage of employees achieving development goals
  • Accidents by type and ratio of lost time to total employee hours
  • Exposure of employees to hazardous and potential hazardous substances and condition
  • Relationship with union
  • Dollars paid out in workers compensation
  • % reduction in gap between highest paid and lowest paid employees.
  • % increase in employee satisfaction scores
  • % reduction in absenteeism
  • % ranking on “Employer of Choice” surveys
  • % reduction in turnover
  • % increase in ratio of women and minorities in leadership positions
  • % employees participating in work life balance programs.
  • % increase in diversity scores compared to industry and local averages
  • % reduction in workplace accidents



Business Relationships
  • Prompt payment terms and conditions
  • Terms and condition of agreements readily honored and upheld
  • Third party mediation is used to settle disputes
  • % reduction in partner/vendor disputes
  • % of business with female- and/or minority-owned businesses
  • % of business conducted with fair trade and B-Corp partners
  • % of overall budgets set aside for partnerships with coops and non-profits
Products and Services
  • Customer satisfaction ratios
  • Customer retention
  • Brand loyalty
  • Quality assessment scores, service incident rates
  • Product recalls
  • Product availability vs. back order
  • On-time delivery
  • Condition of product on delivery
  • Number and nature of customer complaints on issues of product uquality value, safety, or satisfaction and challenges to marketing or pricing practices
  • Percentage of complaints closed within targeted time
  • Average time needed to close complaints
  • Number of references to authorities or regulators
  • Percent of new product sales as an indicator of innovation
  • Percent of customers willing to recommend (NPS)
  • % increase in retention of existing customers
  • % reduction in product recalls and returns
  • % increase in on-time deliveries
  • % reduction in customer complaints
  • % of complains closed within target time periods
  • % reduction in average life-cycle cost of product
Community Involvement
  • Social and recreational benefits provided to the community
  • Training for employees and opportunities for community residents
  • Hours of community relationship building
  • Number of employees trained
  • Number and type of community activities held on company property
  • Community awards accolades received
  • Nature and magnitude of public/private partnerships
  • Dollar amount and percentage of profits or income resources donated to improve the quality of life in the community
  • Net gain/loss in local jobs, income, and business opportunities
  • Number and % of employees who participate in company-sponsored volunteer activities
Environmental Protection Independently verified environment disclosure reportProcess changes adopted to reduce waste emission and energy consumption

Costs or savings associated with those changes

Level of emissions, expenditures for pollution prevention

Amount of energy consumed and conserved by type

Funds committed for research R&D on more effective pollution prevention and control

Evidence of effective environmental site selection criteria for facilities

Integration of environmental impacts into daily management decisions

% reduction in waste and emissions% reduction in expenditures to resolve pollution issues

% increase in amount of materials recycled or diverted

% reduction in number of complaints, suits, and final judgements for environmental infractions

Increase in number and percentage of facilities certified ISO