Posted 2nd March 2023
Social Value UK is delighted to announce that Penny Anderson has recently joined our Board of Directors.
Read on to learn more about Penny and the huge strengths she will bring to the board as they guide our growth.
Who are you?
I work at Akerlof as Head of Social Impact. Akerlof are a consultancy specialising in supporting clients to achieve ESG goals through Modern Methods of Construction. Akerlof are a B Corp accredited company whose mission is ‘to deliver betters, not just goods’.
I have 14 years experience of working in construction and social value. Prior to joining Akerlof, I worked for a large engineering consultancy and a main contractor. Prior to social value, I worked in learning and development roles in hospitality and construction. I was given the opportunity to set up a community engagement role. This came about as clients were placing importance on adding value through their projects. I felt a strong pull to the opportunity – it was the type of role I had been looking for but didn’t know existed.
Through my work I have had the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of hands-on stakeholder engagement activities as well as developing sustainability strategy at local and global levels.
My role now allows me to support a range of clients – helping them understand what social value means to them and giving them the tools and guidance to create the best impact through the way they work.
Why did you join the Social Value UK Board of Directors?
What an opportunity! If we can harness the enthusiasm many people feel, in the words of Nathan Parker ‘can we raise the whispers to a scream?’ (must watch video from Nathan Parker HERE).
‘Raising the whispers to a scream’ was a major motivation for me on wanting to join the Social Value UK Board of Directors. I see pockets of fantastic social value being delivered, but I also see areas where very little is happening. Often this is because there is some kind of resistance holding people back – it might be that some are still sceptical about its importance, it might be that people don’t know where to start, it might be that people don’t realise their true worth and haven’t yet worked out what they can share and what impact this can have. Whatever the reasons, if the whispers are raised to a scream, this will give people the permission, confidence or nudge they need to take steps towards adding value and creating impact.
I am honoured to have joined the Social Value UK Board of Directors at this moment in time. The noise around social value has grown significantly in recent years, one of the side effects of this is the complex landscape which has emerged. This presents a communication challenge. Whatever people or organisations refer to when it comes to social value, we’re largely talking about the same things, what differs are the actions people take, the things they prioritise, the way they engage with stakeholders, the skills, knowledge and experience they have which can be used to add value to people and planet. The challenge here is to help people to paint their own picture of what social value means to them – as an individual or as part of a group/ organisation.
Facing these challenges together will help us to develop a strong voice with which to convey the messages needed to drive change and address some of society’s biggest challenges
What are you most excited to see in Social Value UK’s future?
What I’ve been really struck by with SVUK is the shared passion people who are involved with the organisation as employees or in a voluntary capacity have. This comes across most clearly in the drive people have to help communicate the importance of social value to existing and new audiences. I hear people talking about social value through a range of lenses, but at the core of this is a need to communicate the messages qualitatively and quantitatively providing the language to help a wide range of audiences understand social value and consequently drive change.
I am also excited about the level of ambition Social Value UK has. Although the driving force of the organisation is a relatively small number of people, the reach it has is far and wide. There is a strong drive to spread this reach further – to people who aren’t involved in the conversation yet. We have the opportunity to make social value a mainstream topic, something people from all sectors and walks of life can talk about in relation to how it impacts them and the world around them. I’m excited to be a part of that conversation
Is there a particular social/environmental issue that you feel strongly about?
As a social value generalist, I find this one quite difficult to answer. There are so many issues which are important. I try really hard to make ethical purchasing choices in my life and drive those around me potty when I tell them the reasons they shouldn’t buy or use a particular product or service. Unfortunately, in a lot of ways I think we’re going backwards when it comes to transparency and ethics of products and services – I see an extraordinary amount of greenwashing, fake news and hoodwinking all around, leading to mass overconsumption and increasing damage done to people and planet. Through simplifying the messages around social value, we can help people to understand more clearly how the decisions they make impact the world around them.
I also think an area we need to be acting much more quickly on is developing green skills and technology – not as distinct issues, but in collaboration. This presents a great opportunity to tackle social mobility, diversify workforces, address skills shortages, relieve pressure on people facing poverty, reduce C02 emissions, increase biodiversity and create efficiencies. At the moment, there are too many blockers in the way, meaning these challenges are tackled in silos and often at risk of failure.
Tying the two issues I highlight is a sense of injustice – that money and the powerful few drive decisions which decrease opportunities for value to be added. It should be easier to ‘do the right thing’, but frustratingly, the easiest path to take too often leads to ‘doing the wrong thing’ – it’s often the cheapest and most convenient route.
More questions to other new board members in the coming weeks!