The UK Real Estate Infrastructure and Investment Forum (UKREiiF) made its return to Leeds in May, where we co-hosted ‘The Future of Social Value’ pavilion with our colleagues from Pagabo to bring the cutting-edge insights and advice to the stage.
With more than 7,000 people in attendance throughout the week, it became clear that no matter what point people are at in their social value journey, they are engaged and keener than ever to get it right, with a collective drive for the built environment to drive transformation for people up and down the country.
The message was clear – social value is here, and it’s here to stay and develop further.
The private sector often pushes the innovation in new and developing areas, particularly with increasing numbers of jobs dedicated to social value. With the public sector more strapped for cash than ever, proper collaboration holds the key to learning and developing processes to be used for good, as well as streamlining processes to remove complication or barriers and improve efficiency.
So, a partnership approach across organisations of varying sizes and types, which in turn will allow the public sector to lead on what it needs to – being the adjudicator of social value and driving what best practice looks like.
This collaboration extends to what we do at Loop and The 55 Group, particularly when it comes to procurement. We work closely with organisations not just to help them evaluate their impacts to input into tender submissions, but also to embed social value into the tender documentation and evaluation processes.
We also work with them to identify what they are actually asking for within tender submissions. For example, clients will always want to create local jobs – but what does that mean? One location may benefit more from hiring people who are extremely close to a project, whereas others may benefit more from people who live slightly further away but bring the specific skillsets required.
A final point on collaboration often overlooked is that every organisation creates social value for other organisations – particularly for SMEs. The higher up the food chain you are, the more important it is to be giving back to communities through social value activities, which would ideally be rooted in an organisational social value policy.
Of course, social value does serve to enhance an organisation’s reputation. Whether it’s consumers wishing to purchase goods or services from a responsible business, or employees wanting to work for companies with shared values, organisations need to be able to demonstrate the impacts of their activity. This demonstration also needs to be transparent, with the positives and negatives both considered and shared for accuracy and accountability.
Social value needs to look for the win-win situations and will never be properly born out of competitive advantage. It’s no longer simply a ‘nice to have’ and needs to be about what a project or activity will generate for people. It is still an all-too-common misconception that organisations do not need to examine social value, when the reality is it’s a differentiator for winning work – or losing it if not approached right.
It isn’t just about winning work, however. At the heart of everything is the impact on real individuals and communities, so it has to be tailored to locations and be about the individuals impacted, with their specific context and needs in mind.
It won’t work the same way everywhere and will see variances between areas – even within the same town or city. Meanwhile, no two people are the same, and an individual’s background, characteristics, and personal situations will add more needed to tailor approaches.
Simply put, it’s not a case of copy and paste when it comes to social value – every project or activity needs to be considered on a bespoke basis, and only through this tailored approach will the full social value be realised.
The final piece in the puzzle is evidencing impacts in a clear and consistent manner, with monetisation of measurement sparking debate in the space.
The idea of monetising social value affords accessibility and a clearer understanding for those less familiar with various metrics through using a common format – in this case pounds and pence. What really maximises on monetised measurements is the procurer being completely clear on what it wants to achieve, suppliers being completely clear on how they will deliver on those objectives – and tying it all together with measurement for accountability.
As with the overall approach to social value, this needs to be done on the basis of location and individual needs. Certain impacts will translate to a higher value in some areas more than others, and with clarity on the desired outcomes we are able to consider the most appropriate measurements to suit these.
This is where robust measurement frameworks like the National Social Value Standard come in, with more than 800 unique metrics meaning the most appropriate measurements can be applied to actions for a more accurate and transparent view on the impact felt.
Tools like our own take the heavy lifting out of the evaluation process, allowing users to tailor the metrics to the overall plan, utilising the robust measurement framework with a mix of monetised and non-monetised values.
For more information, book a demo for our social value software here.