Announcing Sara Olsen as a Level 1 Associate Practitioner!
SVT Group is an advisory firm that enables the success of businesses that view all stakeholders– customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders–as equally important. SVT was founded in 2001, and is a Best for the World certified B Corporation based in Silicon Valley, USA.
Sara Olsen is a co-chair of the SVI Methodology Subcommittee and a founding boardmember of Social Value US.
Why have you decided to undertake the Social Value International Practitioner Pathway? What has led to your application for Level 1 of Practitioner?
When I began my career, I was profoundly inspired by the concept of SROI. It seemed to me that if one could account for the social value generated by any investment, that would be revolutionary. It would correct a major systemic flaw in capitalism, which is that it invisibly externalizes non-financial impacts onto everyone but asset owners. This correction would enable capitalism to become perhaps the greatest invention to drive well-being that humans have ever conceived– and would rescue capitalism from being quite the opposite.
But the obvious challenge was, how to make the ability to account for social value widespread? That is the work Social Value International has championed for the past 12 years, building on the shoulders of giants in evaluation, social work, business, finance and many other disciplines. Major strides have been made in the maturity model for what has today become the social value profession.
Becoming an accredited practitioner is key to the evolution of this profession. First, it means that today there is a set of skills that the community of practice have agreed are needed for someone to competently measure, manage and analyze social value. That consensus is a big deal and has been a long time coming. Second, it means that anyone can tell who possesses those skills and who doesn’t, even without being an expert in the subject themselves. And finally, it is prerequisite to becoming qualified to pass those official skills to others as a trainer, which is my goal.
What did you learn and find useful from this assessment process?
I learned that Social Value International has maintained a remarkable integrity through the years and all across its training, testing and assurance processes. I also was reassured that I passed muster!
Is there anything that you believe you will gain or find useful in the next steps you will take for working towards becoming an Accredited Practitioner?
There are innumerable actors working with social value analysis and SROI or the like today in the United States, but they are highly fragmented and it’s difficult to gauge how much activity is occurring. By advancing the formalization of SROI practice here, we will all have greater visibility into the state of the market for social value, and greater confidence in the quality of information underpinning it.
This will help to accelerate the virtuous cycle wherein enterprises that do business in a way that creates well-being, health, equity, opportunity, and sustainability are rewarded in the capital markets with lower costs and risks, and greater goodwill and opportunity.
Are there any other specific projects you are doing at the moment that are related to SROI/social value?
In addition to working to build the United States chapter of Social Value, I run a firm called SVT Group that is collaborating with partners on two major initiatives.
One is an educational platform which will help users find the signal in the noise of the fast-growing ESG and impact management space. Our provisional name for this is “Stakeholder Value Academy.”
The other is a new kind of management consulting offer called The Conception Forum that’s designed to address the fact that, basically, the system is corrupt. The private sector overall rewards behavior that destroys the fabric of society and planet’s life support systems. Short-termism is a cancer that pervades government too. And increasingly everybody sees this. The solution is leadership that fuses a strategy for stakeholder value creation with the impact accounting systems to back it up throughout and across enterprises. The Conception Forum works with executives ready to combine strategy with impact accounting to lead change across their industries.
You have now joined a community of practice around the globe. What does this mean to you and why do you want to participate and contribute to the development of the methodology and overall social value movement?
While I have been a part of this community of practice for many years, I am humbled and inspired by its ever increasing numbers and sophistication.
In my opinion, Social Value International is the most innovative professional association on the planet, and the dark horse the world has been waiting for to win a race that none of us can afford to lose.
For more information please contact Sara Olsen at .