Focusing on Social Value requires a change in mindset. In previous years, the bottom line drove all activity for many businesses across the world, and though that’s not quite the case anymore, shifting perspectives to looking outside of an organisation instead of inwards can take some getting used to.
A concept we often discuss with clients, contacts and partners is that delivering real Social Value is a journey, not a destination. It’s forever, and over time it will evolve as your business develops and as people’s needs change. There is no one goal we are all working towards, except that of getting everyone on board with Social Value, to create positive impact that benefits people, our planet and our overall prosperity.
Our approach is to work with clients to find the most appropriate framework for their organisation, and we’ve developed tools and methodologies to enable us to do this. These things naturally evolve throughout the client relationship as we learn more about their business and begin to see how the knock-on effect of positive action can develop.
Working with a housing association, IT infrastructure costs were identified that could be reduced, which created a significant annual saving. This money was invested in additional street lighting and CCTV systems in a housing area where crime was an increasing issue. In partnership with the police, NHS, social services and community groups, the collaboration was able to identify a reduction in incidents of street crime, drug dealing and other petty crimes. Real Social Value.
Using Accordant Solutions’ bespoke software, AccSL®️, our experienced team could also demonstrate many more tangible positive outcomes, including a net positive carbon impact from the new technology, improved standard of living and community engagement for local residents, and fewer interventions required from police and mental health services. These things could seem unrelated at first glance, and would be difficult to track or quantify retrospectively, but with Accordant Solutions measurement software in place the metrics were easy to follow and report on, and demonstrated just how far-reaching the effects of an initial positive action can be.
A key benefit for organisations in demonstrating Social Value is to increase trust in your brand, from colleagues, clients, customers, suppliers and the wider community or public audiences. Companies which are seen to do good become preferred choices. Over the years John Lewis has had a strong reputation as a department store, and its work to support others has gone a long way towards that. It is a business well known for looking after its workforce, offering paid career breaks for long service, paid volunteering opportunities and support beyond employment, as well as operating partnerships with a number of charities, donating surplus food and raising money for vulnerable families.
When we work with clients, and when we consider our own Social Value as a company, we use the 3Ps model – People, Planet and Prosperity. By using this methodology, we can better understand our impact, compared to trying to understand everything at once, and by looking after each of these areas, they interlink to achieve a level of sustainability.
Overall, we are supporting people and organisations in recognising and reducing the negative impacts their activity may have and changing these to positive, through small adjustments and a new way of looking at their operations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has given the world a warning about how we cannot predict the challenges of the future and cannot rely on simply doing what we always did before – because when change comes it can be devastating! We are all consumers; of goods, of services, of resources, of each other, and we have a responsibility to get better at how we consume and what we give back to build resilience and sustainability for the future, which is exactly what Social Value aims to do.
By Darren Piper: Managing Director