Social Progress Index tells a different story than GDP

by Shannon Houde

This April I attended the 2014 Social Progress Index (SPI) breakfast briefing, hosted by Deloitte. It was a morning of reflection and excitement, kick started by Professor Michael Porter, of Harvard Business School, who delivered the keynote. Then, the rest of the renowned panel went on to discuss the report’s key findings and implications for future action.

Professor Porter designed the index in conjunction with the Social Progress Imperative as a way to measure nations’ well being beyond just economic growth. The SPI takes social and environmental considerations into account as well, hoping to highlight these issues in the policy and corporate arenas. This video provides a brief summary of how it works:

. Porter


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Porter told The Guardian that, “ By informing and motivating stakeholders to work together and develop a more holistic approach to development, I am confident that social progress will accelerate.”

Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, said this new index turns current thinking on its head and stimulate new ideas. For example, the US, which ranks 2nd in the world based on GDP, comes in 16th on social progress. Clearly, if we are taking our temperature on how we are doing overall, looking at economic growth is not enough.

Other panel members included Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Coca-Cola Company, and Steve Almond, Chairman of Deloitte Global Board.

Watch the briefing here:

Moving forward, I will be curious to see how social entrepreneurs and others use this information to identify need and then create new opportunities.

See highlights and download the full report here.


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