Social Change: How Data Analytics Became a Force for Good by Henry Kistler
At home, it is easy to see how SAS’s efforts for social change have paid immediate dividends to its workers and its community. SAS engages with its local community and empowers its workers to devote their time and money to causes they are passionate about. SAS promotes this culture through its Employee Volunteer Fund, which offers money to nonprofit organizations focused on education after an employee has provided at least 50 hours of volunteering to the organization over a period of 12 months. SAS employees donated almost 25,000 hours of their time through the program and the company gave more than 91,000 dollars in 2017. In addition, SAS volunteers globally have contributed to causes of their choice, such as collecting professional clothing for needy individuals seeking employment in France or collecting toys and gifts for low income families in Scotland. These are just a few examples of initiatives that SAS encourages its employees to take part in.
SAS’s efforts are most powerful when seen through the second prong of its approach to social change. Due to its business focus on analytics software, it makes an enormous difference when it uses that expertise to focus on humanitarian and social challenges. This effort is a part of the “Data for Good” movement, where SAS showcases its belief that the best solutions to vexing issues comes from deeper analysis. This movement attempts to match analytics expertise to issues and communities that do not have access to such technology. Examples of such projects can be found on its website, and include efforts to improve child welfare and prevent abuse by using data and analytics to allocate resources more effectively, or text mining to help the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau protect consumers more effectively. SAS wants to incorporate data analytics into public policy making so decision makers can create more informed policies. The potential for this initiative is seen in the wide variety of applications of data analytics detailed on its website, as its software helps assist local people in fields as diverse as counterterrorism and chemistry. The “Data for Good” movement connects SAS’ advantages to the people who need them most.
I think that SAS has an effective and unique approach to social change highlighted by its CSR initiatives. Its philanthropic and educational initiatives, as well as its contributions of data analytics expertise to the “Data for Good” movement show this ethos. As the world becomes more interconnected each year by data, SAS should be positioned to help achieve effective social change by increasing awareness of the efficacy of incorporating data analysis into public policy making and problem solving.