Creating a new generation of data to solve social problems.

Hannah Jones gets it. 

Nike’s Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation accepted the Ceres-ACCA Award for Best Sustainability Reporting earlier this month.  As reported through The Gaurdian, Hannah was being presented an award that recognizes outstanding sustainability communication when she mentioned this dialogue needs to shift from sustainability metrics to ones focused on business value.

I applaud Hannah continuing Nike’s pioneering in the corporate and social sector.  While Nike did and oftentimes continues to face scrutiny regarding its supply chain operations and ethics, the company has dealt with these challenges the right way.  The best way to demonstrate your corporate social responsibility, as well as innovative capacity, is to use your business to affect social change.  The best way to measure your business is with business value metrics.  Seeing as how there is an assumed link between sustainability and business benefits, I hope more companies follow Hannah’s thought leadership in measuring sustainability efforts with intentional business value metrics.  Nike has grasped these concepts that benefits both internal operations and consumers’ invited desire to pay for social change.

Hannah’s charge of measuring sustainability through “net present value, return on invested capital, market share, innovation portfolios and shareholder returns” is how any business employing CSR should be measuring their efforts.  If the expectation is that CSR, social innovation and sustainability will *somehow* benefit the business, measure it on business metrics.  It may be news or not, it’s ok to expect an economic return from social change.  And the companies that realize this, develop the right strategy and allocate enough resources to that strategy are the ones that succeed.

Hannah summed up Nike’s strategy succinctly at The Duke Conference on Sustainable Business and Social Impact hosted by the Fuqua School of Business:

“We need to move out of being police, and move into being architects and designers of Nike’s growth strategy.”

Just do it.