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SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR PRATIK DATTANI

1.       What is the aim of your new enterprise, Economic Policy Group, and how can your services benefit your clients?

We are a team of economists, public policy and MBA professionals who, for a large part of what we do, help organisations determine their social impact. This could mean different things to different people. It could be helping a venture philanthropist decide between mutually exclusive projects based on their social return on investment. Or assisting a charity to refocus their internal strategy based on which project has the greatest objectively-measured impact. Or helping businesses with a social conscience use that conscience to improve society and generate higher profits at the same time.

2.       One of the problems with diversity is that it is so intangible and its impact often difficult to measure. In fact, this is one reason why the investment in this area is so low and unstrategic. What solutions do you offer for this?

Before commencing a project related to diversity, it is important to first put together a theory of change - why do you want to do this, and what are your goals? Second is putting together an impact measurement framework so that you can assess how will the policy could improve intangible goals, as well as affecting the bottom line. It is only after this that a diversity-related project should be launched. Finally, this process should be iterative, to ensure that the intangibles are measured consistently over time.

3.       Social capital is a huge force, especially within faith communities. There are significant benefits from tapping into these networks. However, most big organisations do not understand this and do very little faith engagement. How can we change this attitude?

I would say through case studies and real objective data. I've worked with several large corporations where the Diversity & Inclusion agenda has worked excellently, improving staff retention, and projecting the core values of the organisation to a much wider audience. Working with faith communities is also tricky - it may provide significant benefits, but it may also alienate some people in an organisation who do not subscribe to a faith. That may be a reason for firms being tentative in this area.

4.       What would you say is your unique selling point?

I've built up charitable organisations, worked with several charities at a grassroots level and yet I come from a corporate background - I used to be an investment banker and management consultant. So I can see both sides to the story, and help organisations improve their social impact, without compromising profitability for shareholders.

5.       What inspired you to take a lead in the City Hindus Network and help organise a high quality and diverse range of events?

Making a difference and grassroots community is something that appeals to me. The organisation provides networking, mentoring, personal development and charity support primarily focussed at Indians in the City. It is a membership body that has grown just through word of mouth to well over 1,000 members. When I took over, the organisation had come to a crossroads, so I saw it as an opportunity to harness the incredible potential that was present to make a sustainable and scalable positive change to society.

Article added on 4th October 2012 at 2:08pm

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