A social audit is a way of measuring, understanding, reporting and ultimately improving an organization’s social and ethical performance. A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness. Factors examined by a social audit include records of charitable contributions, volunteer events, efficient utilization of energy, transparency, work environment, and employees’ wages.
Social audits have several aims. One is to assess the type of social and environmental influence that the company has in its local community. Another aim is to make a judgment of the material and monetary shortfalls between the needs of the community and the assets that are available for the development of the local society. Another aim of social audits is to make local social service providers and other beneficiaries aware of the needs of the community. Yet another is to provide information needed to improve the effectiveness of programs designed to enhance community development.
Many believe that social audits are an imposition on organizations to divulge some information that they want to keep internal. Others believe that social contributions should be left to the social conscience of the organizational leaders. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Advantages of social audits include the following:
- Helping the community with planning
- Supporting democracy in the local community
- Promoting community involvement
- Benefiting individuals and families that are poor or disadvantaged
- Promoting decision-making as a community and the sharing of the responsibilities
- Assisting with human resources growth and development
- Enhancing the company’s image in the eyes of the public