Centre for Employment Innovation’s Key Learnings (2017 – 2022)

Social Impact Assessment

Social Impact Assessment
What are Social Impacts?
  • Social impacts are defined as any change that an individual or community experiences due to external factors (Mathur, 2011).  
  • Social Impacts can be both positive and negative.    
What are some categories of Social Impacts?
  • Social and cultural impacts  
  • Economic impacts  
  • Impacts on infrastructure and public service 
What is Social Impact Assessment (SIA)?
  • Social impact assessment (SIA) is the process of examining the changes experienced by stakeholders as a result of the project, program, or intervention performed by an organization and determining what impacts (changes) have occurred (negative or positive).
  • The main objective of SIA is to better understand how a project or organization is impacting the lives of the stakeholders who engage with it.
    What is the process of Social Impact Assessment?

    The process of conducting a social impact assessment will vary greatly depending on the context of the project being assessed. However, some key steps will remain the same regardless of the project. 

    1. Creating a theory of change (social impact framework): the creation of a theory of change (also known as a logic model) is an important step in conducting a SIA because it indicates what an organization will do and the reason behind that action. Organizations need to begin the process by discussing the intended outputs and outcomes of the project.  
    2. Identify all potential stakeholders: it is essential for the organization to identify potential stakeholders. Once those individuals or groups that may be impacted by the project are identified, organizations should ask themselves who will be negatively or positively affected as well as who are the most vulnerable groups.
    3. Conduct the SIA: Once the upfront work has been completed, service providers/organizations can begin to collect the data and start the SIA. Organizations need to engage their stakeholders throughout the process to gather data as well as aid in the analysis process.
    4. Engage with the Data: Once organizations have gathered and analyzed the data, they are able to engage with it and use it to make evidence-informed decisions.  
          What are the benefits of Social Impact Assessments?
          • Collection of Relevant Data: SIA provides organizations the opportunity to gather relevant data regarding their programs directly from their stakeholders which allows them to make evidence-informed decisions regarding the continuation of their program/service.   
          • Opportunities to Improve: By conducting a SIA, organizations are able to learn about what is working and what is not working about the program directly from their stakeholders which provides them with the opportunity to improve the program and the organization to better serve their stakeholders. 
          • Increased Trust: Due to their involvement in the SIA, stakeholders will gain a better understanding of the program and the organization which, in turn, can lead to increased trust.
          • Reduced costs and faster approvals: SIA can result in faster approvals from governing bodies and funders because much of what is asked during an approval process (e.g., ethics board approval) is discussed in a SIA. This can also reduce costs because organizations are spending less time waiting on approvals or funding, allowing them to begin their work faster and more efficiently. 
            Why is SIA important in the career and employment field?
            • SIA can help organizations/practitioners examine the impacts that their programs or services are having, while also determining if larger program goals were achieved. 
            • By engaging in SIA and determining their impacts or lack of impact, organizations can improve their program or service in order to better align with the needs and wants of stakeholders.
            • SIA can be important for organizations who depend on external funding to run their programs/services as the data gathered during a SIA can be used to demonstrate the effectiveness and importance of the program and organization.