Companies are looking strategically at how environmental, social, and economic performance can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Changing markets, regulatory pressure, and stakeholder influence are driving a change in the way business leaders look at the performance of their business.
The often-used phrase, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is especially true when evaluating your company’s sustainability performance. Without a mechanism to set sustainability benchmarks it is incredibly difficult to evaluate and prioritize decisions, pursue innovation, and effectively respond to stakeholder requests and expectations. Effective metrics can help determine areas within your business operations that need attention. Metrics also provide a framework to measure success and improvement.
In 2014, SFTA and B Lab entered into a partnership to offer SFTA members a Quick Impact Assessment (QIA) that became one of the required reports that members could submit annually. As of March 15, 2019 B Lab completed a revision to their platform that included, among other upgrades, eliminating the QIA. In anticipation, SFTA and B Lab worked together to develop a new customized questionnaire – SFTA Metrics Snapshot – on the B Lab platform that contains a dynamic set of SFTA core metrics drawn from the Full Sustainable Food Trade Association Metrics, and actionable benchmarks.
The SFTA Metrics Snapshot is designed to make reporting to SFTA, once a year, easy and convenient. It is the only required annual reporting for members. The quantitative data collected with the Snapshot is aggregated and used to demonstrate individual company, as well as collective impact. However, SFTA welcomes additional reports, case studies, and/or reports that are written for other organizations, vendors or customers. SFTA uses all the submitted information to promote achievements of its members as sustainable business operations.
There are 33 SFTA Metrics in the on-line SFTA Metrics Snapshot. The questions include:
The quantitative questions will allow SFTA to provide benchmark comparisons, as well as a customized analysis of your company’s progress. To complete the SFTA Metrics Snapshot, start HERE.
The SFTA Metrics Snapshot does not calculate scores, however SFTA members will receive a report after the Snapshot is completed.
For those who want to go further, the full B Lab B Impact Assessment (BIA) is offered separately on the same platform. The BIA is a credible tool that a company can use to measure its impact on its workers, community, and environment, and customers. More than 50,000 businesses, from small start-ups to large corporations, have used the B Impact Assessment as a free management tool.
The SFTA and B Lab partnership is based on aligned missions to spur positive impact, create a community of like-minded businesses and to accelerate change. Both the SFTA Metrics Snapshot and BIA are open to all to use to measure their environmental and social impact.
The Sustainable Food Trade Association members collaboratively developed a set of sustainability metrics designed for the organic trade and agriculture sector in 2008 that were revised in 2012 and again in 2014. SFTA members outlined 11 specific areas of focus for the organic industry called the Declaration of Sustainability.
These 11 areas include: Organic and Land Use, Distribution, Waste, Water, Energy, Climate Change, Packaging, Animal Care, Labor, Education and Governance. Based upon these, the comprehensive set of SFTA metrics contain 200 questions and provide a quantitative and qualitative look at business operations.
The SFTA metrics were developed through extensive research, industry and expert stakeholder review. SFTA looked at alignment with widely accepted reporting frameworks (i.e., Global Reporting Initiative, EPA, Greenhouse Gas Protocol, etc.), the most commonly reported on metrics in the food industry (e.g., researching existing reports within the industry), and contacted content experts in each of the 11 areas for comments and edits.
The SFTA Full Metrics and Report Template are available as an open source set of metrics designed for the organic food industry and provide a framework to develop sustainable business operation. The goal of the public release of the metrics was to bring optimization and harmonization of metrics in analyzing and reporting sustainability impacts in the industry. The Full Metrics and Report Template remain a valuable tool and reference document.