ESG, sustainable procurement regulations*, and strategic CSR are growing trends placing social value ** at the heart of commercial success of private sector organisations in various industries e.g. IT, construction, facilities management, healthcare, defence, education, legal, and consultancies.
In the UK all government tenders are scored with a minimum 10% marking on social value, which affects all sizes and types of companies that offer products and services to central government and local authorities (annual spend £380bn).
The rising number of social value and sustainability directors and managers is a key factor in the changing operational landscape in the private sector. The latest industry research reveals that some boardrooms are still considering social value the ‘fluffy stuff’. Social value professionals struggle with a lack of budget, mandate, and formal training. They also find various social value frameworks and reporting systems daunting. The so-called ‘tick-box’ mentality in social value management raises questions of ethics and how the new operations management scene needs to be managed.
The UK’s leading social value management company whatimpact.com is publishing a white paper ‘Social Value Manager 1.0’ with over 150 organisations and social value related professionals partaking in the research.
The aim of this research was to explore, establish, and embrace the emerging job role of social value management related titles which are shaping the way the private sector engages with our communities.
#The CEO of whatimpact, Tiia Sammallahti, has a clear message to boardrooms based on the research findings: “It is astonishing and sad that none of the interviewed social value and sustainability professionals had a dedicated budget for tools, systems and formulating partnerships with charities and social enterprises on the grass root level.
“They need to ask for money and other resources from other departments to fulfil sustainability commitments. Time has passed on those companies whose boardrooms and executive level decision makers do not understand that social value is one of the biggest success factors in business both in short term contract revenue as in growing the overall business value.”
The research clearly concluded that social value is still a relatively ‘new topic’, and yet requires an extremely proactive mentality from social value related professionals due to the fast-evolving nature of the social value world. This applies across various aspects: measuring, reporting, technology, frameworks, legislation and policies, accreditations, certifications – and of course methods to create the change through social value actions.
Based on the challenges social value professionals face, harnessing technology to support their goals is key. Although the market is getting saturated with various measurement and reporting tools, it is important that the right ones are chosen to avoid the tick-box phenomenon where the ability to demonstrate high value numbers overtakes the importance of demonstating proven impact, whatimpact has long been an advocate for evidence based impact reporting so that resources can be invested in the societal interventions that matter the most.
The Head of Social Value Michael McLoughlin from whatimpact partner organisation, impact evaluation company HACT stated: “We need to ensure that the way social value is calculated, it reflects the proven outcomes and the benefits for individuals and the communities.”
*UK Gov procurement policy note PPN 06/20 made it mandatory for all government contractors to deliver a social value plan as part of the bid, scored 10-30% depending on the tender
**Social value is an umbrella concept for social, environmental and economic value