Three things you need to excel in social value

12 March 2019

At the Social Value Leaders Summit at King’s College, London, delegates were told how to achieve success in implementing social value.

Speakers discussed best practice in social value as well as how organisations can continue to improve and enhance their social value credentials.

1. Organisation-wide buy-in

Lesley Dixon, chief executive of Person Shaped Support (PSS), a social enterprise, said that while it’s important to measure the impact of social value, ensuring buy-in at all levels of the business was essential.

A top-down approach was crucial to implementing ways to measure social value and ensuring employees had an understanding of processes and the appropriate training.

Dixon said it was important to let teams know that implementing social impact measurements would not mean an increase to workloads. Introducing a toolkit very early on would allow managers to work through this process to assess how the organisation captures its measurements.

She said: “It caught me by surprise that we had some people that were really early adopters and very enthusiastic about it, and we really champion them, but we had to make sure that people realise this was non-negotiable.”

Dixon said the next step for PSS was using its social impact reports and data to ensure that the organisation is not only celebrating its social value achievements, but also challenging its practices.

2. Giving something back

Veronica Daly, chief procurement officer for King’s College, said that engaging the workforce through social value, especially in procurement, is key.

She said: “You join the public sector because you want to make a difference. You want to give something back and if it feels as if you’re not able to do that, that can affect how you do your job. Turnover isn’t the only measure. People might not leave, but they will lack the motivation to do what they should be doing so we need to reform that way that procurement is carried out in the public sector.”

However, Daly thinks it is not just public sector procurement that is set to benefit from social value and that businesses are seeing the economic and commercial results of social purpose.

She said: “It creates sustainable business models and it gives you better economic and commercial results. The bids you receive from your supply chain are generally more innovative and creative and employees will be more engaged, they will be more likely to remain and they're more likely to want to come and work for you in the first place.”

3. A solid framework

According to Mark Cook, partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, public bodies should be using procurement to make an intervention in local communities to create social value.

He said: “It’s about how you think and how you act rather than creating something that is overly complicated.”

Reframing the subject can help bodies to achieve this. For example, instead of just procuring buses, consider what positive impact this could have on lowering carbon emissions and on local communities.

He also said while there are various Acts in place to boost wellbeing in the UK, there needs to be a new piece of legislation to join up different aspects and fully support it as an aspect of social value.

He said there is the basis of a framework in the form of the Social Value Act, the Care Act, the Procurement Reform Act in Scotland and the Wellbeing for Future Generations Act in Wales, which ensure public bodies must take wellbeing issues into account, but something more formal was needed.

He said: “It’s not just about procurement, it’s about people’s lives.”

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