Ethics through the Impact Lens

by | Dec 15, 2020 | ICT4D |

impact lens

“We want to increase our impact.” Of course you do. No one says the opposite. So how do you do this? For some, the focus is on evidence – improving the ability to argue or prove they are having impact. For others it’s a multitude of approaches.

It depends a bit on how you define impact. If it’s number of people reached or receiving stuff, then it’s a simple logistics challenge. And you can solve it by reducing the amount you giving to each person by 50% and doubling the amount of people you are giving to. Job done.

I can hear you protesting already. Impact is more than numbers. Good. What is it then?

For most of us, it’s more than numbers reached or money raised. It may include those things, but it also includes the change in the lives of those we seek to serve.

And perhaps this is how we need to frame the ethics discussion. The discussion of responsible data, of responsible digital transformation, of responsible technology choices. Maybe if we frame it to be about impact and values, we have organisational ‘hooks’ to hang the discussions on.

If things like bias or keeping data for the long term have a negative impact on those we seek to serve, does it motivate us to change? Or if data minimisation can increase the positive impact on those we seek to serve, does that motivate us? Or moving away from data. Is it hypocritical to be campaigning for climate change while our programmes use diesel generators which contributes to atmospheric cancer rather than solar which doesn’t?

Or do we need to ask better questions? If we are wanting a global registry of recipients of aid, do we also think it is ok to have a global registry of our donors (individual, general public donors)? If not, why not? And how does that align with our values?

Does framing it differently change what we see?

Photo by Paul Skorupskas

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