Social Value: The Great Differentiator

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March 8, 2022

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Social Value is now firmly on the agenda. The Government launched a new Policy, categorising Social Value into 5 themes which, from early 2021, are built into all Government procurement. CIPS talks about public sector procurement “looking beyond the price of each contract at what the collective benefit to a community is”.

The 5 themes are:

  1. Covid Recovery
  2. Tackling Economic Inequality
  3. Fighting Climate Change
  4. Equal Opportunity
  5. Wellbeing

These themes are important, but I want to talk more broadly about approach, thinking, attitude and behaviour, because this is about culture. 

We need to ask, where does each theme sit in the hierarchy of strategic and operational thinking? When approaching a Government bid, do you consider it a box-ticking compliance exercise, or think more about the opportunities the bid gives to achieve tangible policy outcomes?

The reality is that by now it’s probably a bit of both. But the tide is changing quickly.

A year ago, it may have been enough to “wrap what you are already doing in a Social Value context”, as someone said to me. Now, however, the expectation of Government buyers is increasingly to see proactive and intentful behaviour demonstrated by examples of how businesses are committed to Social Value.

So, the challenge is clear. A business needs to have Social Value at its core; enshrined in its values and encouraged in its thinking and behaviour. Social Value must be cultural.

The rise of the “B Corp” companies is testament to this sea change in company culture which is gathering pace across the globe, as are the swathes of potential employees who seek these businesses out when deciding where to work. Our CEO wrote about the rise of Digital Artisans in his recent blog on the future of work.

There is something every size of company can do to build Social Value into their DNA. At Fimatix, as part of a whole host of initiatives, we encourage our people to volunteer and give special leave to support this. We mentor, we’ve created apprentice roles and we invest our skills, time and talent supporting programmes such as The Big Exchange

One of our proudest achievements so far was becoming Carbon Negative at the turn of this year. Signing up to the Carbon Net Zero initiative was easy, but being more intentful, was something our people felt passionately about. So whilst we’ve bought carbon credits to make an immediate positive difference, we also agreed a set of activities and targets which will continue to change our behaviour, reducing the need for off-setting in the first place.

We’re justifiably proud of all of this, but there is more to do as we continue our journey from reactive, to responsive, to proactive, intentful behavioural maturity. And we don’t stop there, encouraging our people to take this thinking into their home lives too, as being involved in driving Social Value is a virtuous circle; it’s good for wellbeing and helps build not just healthy, happy businesses, but healthy, happy communities too. 

So, as Social Value matures it’s beginning to differentiate between “tick box” compliance and cultural embedding. And this culture is about how we behave, starting as individuals, because we all have the power to ‘be the change we want to see in the world.’

More posts by Harvey Neve