Maximising Social Value through our work

In this series, we’ll be looking at each of the actions in our new SustainAbilities Plan 2.0 and exploring why we felt it was important, what we’ve done so far, and what it might mean for the future…

Deliver £1 billion social value by 2025

Our business has a significant opportunity to create social value. To drive this throughout every avenue available to us, we’ve committed, as part of our new SustainAbilities plan, to generate a whopping £1 billion of social value through our work by 2025.

What is Social Value?

There are numerous definitions of social value. Demos, the cross-party think tank, says,

“Social value refers to wider non-financial impacts of programmes, organisations and interventions, including the wellbeing of individuals and communities, social capital and the environment.”

In short, we have an opportunity to create social value through initiatives that benefit the wider community in and around the buildings we build and manage.

Why does it matter?

How we spend, who we employ, where we volunteer and how we work with local communities can help to stimulate local economies, and build relationships based on trust and goodwill in the communities where we live and work.

For example, employing local people and local businesses, and buying from small and medium-sized enterprises and social enterprises, and volunteering in the community – through our ‘Give A Day Of Your Time’ initiative – all help to drive value into local areas. Supporting our existing workforce to be happy, healthy and engaged, through health and wellbeing initiatives, or providing opportunities to develop and progress personally and professionally is another way we can create social value. We feel we can help individuals and groups grow and develop through upskilling or mentoring.

How will we achieve this?

In 2016 we developed a practical Guide to Social Value to help increase awareness and understanding of how our people can create social value through all stages of contract delivery.
Our Business Development teams use the guide to build social value into bids and tenders for potential new customers. Our Procurement teams open up opportunities for greater social value through our supplier list, specifying more socially beneficial products and services, and choosing suppliers who support our social ambitions.  Our Contract teams are inspired to retro-fit existing contracts with added social value, such as providing bike racks to encourage more sustainable commuting and healthy living, or opening up access to school swimming pools for local residents out of hours. We want to inspire our people to think creatively about ways we help others when we go beyond mere contract delivery.

We’ve also developed and built a social value mapping tool which helps us to understand the places where we work, the needs they may have and match these to the capabilities we can offer.  This enables us to make better-informed decisions about how we create the most appropriate social value for a place. Each community faces different social problems, and our tool allows us to hone in on these, and design programmes that can tackle these. One size doesn’t fit all. For example, for one council customer our tool showed that 72% of our contract employees lived within the borough boundaries, providing a boost to the local economy through their spending, and that our spend through supply chain remained in the borough.

Adding value through the supply chain

Given our annual global spend, working to create social value through our supply chain makes a lot of sense so in early 2016 we joined with eight other leading businesses to launch the ‘Buy Social’ Corporate Challenge and together aim to spend £1 billion with social enterprises by 2020.

Led by Social Enterprise UK in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Business in the Community (BITC), the challenge will ensure we maximise the social benefits our spend has. Although this is a group effort, and there are ambitions to bring more new partners on board to achieve it, our SustainAbilities action to create £1 billion of social value by 2025 augments this, but is an action that we’ve committed to undertake alone.

It’s a big task, but we know we’re equal to the job. Every day all of us have the responsibility and opportunity to make a difference.

Our SustainAbilities Progress report has many great stories of the myriad ways we created social value in 2016. To find out more, see our report here.

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