Consumers increasingly ask to know the social and environmental impact of the products they buy, as revealed by the report Sustainable consumption in Spain 2022, made by the ClicKoala group last December. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, concern for health and social responsibility has increased, in the midst of a current climate emergency context.
In this scenario, it seems more important than ever to differentiate the companies that promote greenwashing Y social washing –marketing tactics aimed at creating an illusory image of ecological and social responsibility–, of those that really take into account the environmental and social impact when developing their products. As a result of this need, it might seem positive that in recent years the number of labels that help categorize what we consume on a social and environmental scale has increased. However, as the same study points out, it is believed that the large volume of labels on products takes us away from the objective and, on the contrary, generates a growing feeling of misinformation.
The Social Audit is a tool based on principles of Solidarity Economy that aims at the internal improvement of companies, and the implementation of a transparency system for the consumer.
From the Solidarity Economy we have spent years promoting projects to measure the impact of our work. One of them is the Social Audit, a tool based on our principles that aims at the internal improvement of companies, and the implementation of a system of transparency for the consumer.
The Social Audit Working Group of the Alternative and Solidarity Economy Network It began in 2014, in order to harmonize the Social Balance and Audit systems in its different territorial offices. To this end, we established a series of common questions and indicators regarding data collection, the use of the same computer tool (Teach the heart platform), the presentation of the results obtained by the organizations through Mercadosocial.net, and conducting joint analyzes and reports. Despite cooperative work, there is still no Social Audit seal at the state level. However, each territorial network has followed its own rhythm and has worked on the implementation of its own stamps in its territories.
It is the case of the Solidarity Economy Network of Catalonia (XES, for its acronym in Catalan), which has been awarding a seal for years to each of the entities that pass their Social Balance evaluation. Initially, this seal was conditioned to the organizations’ annual improvement commitments, but at present it is obtained through a more complete examination of the Solidarity Economy principles that are adaptable to each organization.
The seal that we grant in the XES is based on criteria defined in the different deliberation spaces of the network. For example, we evaluate the salary scale based on the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) law proposal in Catalonia. In this sense, we do not value positively any ratio that is above 1/5. In addition to this criterion, we also use parameters based on the experiences of previous years in order to situate ourselves in the reality of the organizations and evaluate the entities more precisely. This caused, for example, that in some indicators, such as those of participation in decision-making spaces, we set different classification thresholds, depending on the legal system of the organizations.
The combination of political and practical aspects in our evaluation allows us to provide accurate information to citizens about the social and environmental impact of the organizations we examine.
Although at the national level we are not a seal as such, the REAS social audit system is one of the certifications best valued by the ClicKoala group. In fact, we have begun to reflect on the definition of a seal that strengthens the recognition of our audit. This year, the XV edition of ideary – Meeting of Alternative and Solidarity Economy, it will be an ideal moment to advance in that sense and give answer to the questions that concern us. We question how to create a seal that, in addition to being highly valued by experts, has visibility and impact among citizens. Also, about whether it makes sense that from the Solidarity Economy we promote another stamp, taking into account all those that already exist.