Social value – making invisible value, visible

What is social value?

Social value (SV) is the quantification of things that are important to us (as business owners, employees, consumers, and communities) but are not commonly expressed or measured in the same way financial value is. Basically, it’s making invisible value visible.

SV is shifting the way enlightened organisations define ‘value’, driving them to make positive business decisions about where to invest resource to enable happier people live in a more sustainable environment and equal world. Through better accounting, measuring, and maximising of SV, businesses can influence everyone they touch through their organisation.

Why it matters

Organisations are being more closely scrutinised for what happens economically, socially, and environmentally because of their work, not just whether they achieve their business objectives. The public sector procurement process and government funding incentives place SV high on the requirements list with some giving a decision weighting of up to 20% for SV alone, as they look to commission better services that offer new and innovative solutions to broader, more difficult problems. The private sector is also reacting to employee and consumer demand for greater social responsibility, and PE investment understands good SV is now necessary to add to a company’s overall value when it comes to IPO or sale.

Above all, organisations must be able to monitor their SV activity to prove they deliver on their promises.

Successful social value

Having effective measurement capability through social accounting and audit, sustainability reporting, cost-benefit analysis, financial accounting, and evaluation practice is critical. This in turn enables accurate social return on investment (SROI) insight; it’s quality not quantity that counts. SV can also directly affect the bottom line if the additional social and environmental benefits can be proven, securing more contracts, and improving the holistic value of the business as a result.

Enablers to success

  • Understanding SV, benchmarking, and working in partnership with customers and communities to develop strategies in line with their long-term priorities.
  • Taking a targeted approach to SV benefits relevant to a buyer’s specific geographical area or stakeholder group.
  • Embedding SV into product and service specifications.
  • Embedding consistent SV feedback into every stage of every project/programme and tracking outcomes and progress against priorities.
  • Being transparent and only claiming the value that activities are responsible for creating.
  • Involving/consulting your greatest assets (your people) about what’s changed for them as a result of the additional support you’ve delivered.
  • Communicating your plans and results internally and externally to boost morale and promote your culture/reputation as a company that genuinely cares.

We can help you

  • Ask the right questions to identify the economic, social, and environmental benefits you can deliver so they can be included in the Business strategy/plan.
  • Assess your people strategy for equal opportunities, workplace schemes, apprenticeships, training opportunities, education engagement and voluntary work.
  • Establish and iterate ethical people and supply sourcing strategies.
  • Identify your main environmental impacts and how they might be reduced, managed, and verified.
  • Establish a robust qualitative, quantitative, and comparative information framework/system to monitor your SV activities and report the SROI output.
  • Demonstrate to clients the benefits to them and the wider community of working with your organisation to give you a competitive edge.

Aitemology® is the creator of the Plug and Playbook series of scale-up methodologies (Cloud, Change, Consult) that delivers effective transformational change. Consisting of a ‘how to’ primer underpinned by specific/dedicated aitems® (policies, processes, technical products, reports, templates etc.), organisations can navigate their chosen technical/non-technical transformation journey step by step from start to finish. Save time and money, retain control, maintain quality, and manage risk.

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