Wall Street Journal on Social Audits: UNC’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise & the Redwoods Group


Executive Education: Schools, Firms Gauge Social Impact

(From the Wall Street Journal) When Stephanie Poole signed up for a mentor through her business school, she thought the person would be someone she could simply turn to for occasional advice. Instead, she was handed a semester-long project requiring her to assess the social impact of a nearby company.

The Center for Sustainable Enterprise, a part of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, organized the mentor program and linked Ms. Poole with Kevin Trapani, president of the Redwoods Group, a Morrisville, N.C., insurance provider that works with YMCAs, Jewish community centers and resident camps throughout the country.

Ms. Poole, 25 years old, spent last spring producing a 21-page social audit for Mr. Trapani and the Redwoods Group. Like a traditional financial audit, it focused on what the company is doing in the areas of the environment, ethics and its overall social impact.

It’s an effort a growing number of companies are undertaking, as they look to track the outcomes of social responsibility efforts and prove their value.

For her part, Ms. Poole assessed volunteerism, charitable giving, transparency of company leaders and community engagement. She also implemented a system for Redwoods’ 90 employees to compare their progress against a widely accepted set of metrics for social impact.” Click here to see the Redwoods Group’s 2008 Social Audit.


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