New Metrics
People Perspectives in Sustainable Innovation

The environment has been an impetus for innovation in the last couple of years. Assessing products’ ecological impact helps companies to spot new product opportunities with reduced planet footprint and a sound business case.

DSM, the global science-based company, active in health, nutrition and materials, wants to create triple value along the dimensions of People, Planet and Profit, underscoring its mission of ‘Bright Science, Brighter Living.’ DSM wants contribute to a sustainable world in which people can flourish, now and for generations to come.

How to fit ‘people’ into the equation?

With the Planet and Profit levers in place, we have been searching for ways to create products that measurably improve people’s lives and contribute to sustainability as a business growth driver. DSM started to develop its People+ Strategy in 2012. People+ will do for the ‘people’ element of the three ‘P’s what the ‘Eco+’ program has done for ‘planet.’

Our starting point was to define the people affected by our business. We had to define, for example, the people involved in making and using our company's products. Inspired by the United Nations guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessments, DSM brought the number of stakeholder groups involved across its value chains down to three: employees, communities and end-users.

Knowing on which people DSM has an impact, we want to measure the size of that impact. The developed ‘DSM People LCA’ metrics have been based on international standards and company values. The framework consists of four dimensions: Health Condition, Comfort & Well-Being, Working Conditions and Community Development. Currently the metrics are being road-tested with DSM products across industries. DSM strives in making the metrics a stepping stone towards a future harmonized methodology and takes an active role in engagement with industry peers, scientists, and consortia.

To have a good yardstick for developing products that can improve people’s lives is an important benefit. The road testing and engagement with suppliers and customers also bring additional insights and advantages.

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