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FM and social value: building a better future

The following article was written by Isabelle Parasram, SVUK Chief Executive, for i-FM.

Social Value UK is the national network for those interested in social impact and social value. It is also the professional network for social value practitioners.

We believe that, in order to live in a world where equality, environmental protection and wellbeing are prioritised, organisations need to broaden their definition of what value means to incorporate social value and to change decision making to optimise value, not just profit.

We work with our members to ensure that social value management practice is embedded within organisations and is evaluated from the perspective of those affected by an organisation’s activities.

Growing engagement with the social value movement

In 2012, ‘social value’ became more widely known as a result of The Public Services (Social Value) Act. This created a huge opportunity for social value to be generated from companies working on large public sector contracts. The Act calls for all public sector commissioning to factor in economic, social and environmental wellbeing in connection with public services contracts and for connected purposes. Thanks to this Act and the subsequent policy and procurement developments following in the last nine years, some of the main players in the built environment, and particularly in facilities management, as well as smaller organisations throughout their supply chains, are now engaging with this crucial agenda.

Yours might well be an organisation that is already engaged with social value. Perhaps you have integrated sustainability, including the social elements of it, for years prior to 2012. Or it may be that, because of The Social Value Act, your organisation has placed more resource into the measurement and management of the impacts your business is having, not just the inputs. The Act may have led to your business taking your commitment that one step further.

Getting started

Whether your organisation is already engaged with social value or is just starting out, further exploration of the latest developments in this area could help to highlight the difference between what you are doing now and what you could be doing. We encourage organisations to look at social value from a more holistic point of view, not only limited to certain areas such as corporate social responsibility or community engagement.

You might recognise that place makes a difference to the value you are generating in people’s lives. Accounting for this could help you to choose the location for projects to create the most value in the lives of those most at need or understand the difference in employing people from one place to the next. Continuing to develop your practice can help you to better understand the social value that your activities have already been generating across your business, but not previously fully captured.

No matter where you are in your social value journey, practical examples of what others are doing can make social value come to life. Our members recognise the importance of sharing practice to continue learning as a community. If you’re completely new to the world of social value, one of the simplest ways of explaining how social value might be relevant to the world of facilities management is through a case study of one of our members.

The VINCI Facilities experience

In 2016, VINCI Facilities joined SVUK as an organisational member. VINCI Facilities provides facilities management and building maintenance to both public and private sector clients.

VINCI joined Social Value UK in order to facilitate a robust and industry-leading approach to managing and improving the social value they create for society, employees, customers and suppliers.

As part of their work, VINCI Facilities delivers a range of projects which are targeted at providing social value. One example of such a project is Reading from the Start, a joint programme delivering social value through tackling the issue of illiteracy and poor educational support in three London boroughs.

VINCI have also led on a project to renovate a residential activity centre for children as part of an ongoing collaboration with Barking and Dagenham College construction students. A video has been produced, exploring what is being done, why and the benefits involved.

Rory Murphy, Commercial Director for VINCI Facilities, issued this statement when they joined us: “Social value return has been at the heart of our operations for many years. Membership of Social Value UK allows us to shape its future and raise the benchmark across industry, creating more lasting legacies within the communities we work.”

The social value community

One of the reasons that organisational members join us is because they are seeking to deliver social value through their projects and in collaboration with their clients. However, they are not always sure how to evidence this. The Social Value UK network provides guidance and support in helping organisations to develop the right systems to find, record and analyse evidence of the social value they generate and to develop better ways to manage the value created.

One of the outcomes of working with us is that you could produce a Social Value Framework specifically tailored to your facilities management business. This will help you to better understand where your impacts are. The support of the network will help you to embed an impact-thinking culture which has the mindset to use that social value to make different and better decisions, not always easy to do, but which will help you more effectively generate social value for your stakeholders.

Developing knowledge and organisational capacity in social value is an important step for any organisation on their social value journey. Many members join us for our training programme, designed help businesses better integrate social value into the work that they do. Social value training offers the knowledge and tools necessary to measure and maximise the social value of activities.

A good starting point on this journey is our Social Value Self-Assessment Tool. If it brings up interesting results for your organisation, please feel free to contact us at Social Value UK to find out what to do about it.

The Social Value Self-Assessment Tool is a free and designed to allow users to judge how well they are measuring and reporting on their social value, in line with The Principles of Social Value, and to offer advice on where to go next with their practice. Results illustrate areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Social value is a movement for social change, and it will take change at all levels of our society. If you would like to shape the way in which legislation and policies on social value might change next, and how they impact your organisation, we would welcome your input into our working groups and advocacy campaigns. One of the best ways that we can identify where we next need to place our focus is to hear from you.

As one of our members has said to us: “Membership of Social Value UK will not only contribute to your organisation being associated with social value, it can also help in showing that the great work you are doing/will do is something that your organisation genuinely cares about.”

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