Every month we like to share a recommendation from one of our ambassadors: something that inspires them in their responsible business work. This month we asked Sue Hardy, Community & Skills Team Leader at Mace.
“I have been very lucky to work in the social value space for over 15 years. During that time, I’ve seen substantial change from an early focus on ad-hoc group volunteering to more impactful strategic programmes that really drive change and increase social mobility. The one thing that has always motivated me is individual and business drive to affect real change.
However, outcomes can be difficult to measure, quantify and report on. Everyone enjoys a success story and can see the value of a young person who has successfully gained their first role or has developed the confidence to stand up and talk in front of a room of their peers.
Whilst personal testimonials are a helpful part of the jigsaw, we need to be able to analyse the overall social value impact of the programme – not just the benefit to one person.
So how do we measure the effectiveness of a programme or activity? Was it a success? Is it what the local community wanted? How do we compare two activities against each other to gauge the impacts and long-term benefits?
Two reports have just been published that expand on these questions:
- From the Ground Up – Improving Delivery in Construction – Institute of Economic Development
- Maximising Social Value from Infrastructure projects – Institution of Civil Engineers
Both reports focus on construction, however their key findings are transferable to any business or sector:
- There is still no consistent definition or measurement of social value.
- There needs to be more ambition and creative thinking in social value.
- A local need analysis needs to be undertaken before putting together a programme.
- Social value practitioners need to upskill and increase their capabilities in measuring impacts and outcomes.
The reports also highlight the need for greater cross-sector collaboration, so we can measure social value across the UK in all sectors and quantify the impacts of our collective programmes of work.
At Mace, we address the findings above through the application of focused and bespoke social value metrics and software. We produce a local needs report before starting a construction project and train the Mace team and sub-contractors on how to identify and deliver best social value outcomes. By collaborating with our partners, we ensure that local communities get the right support and maximum benefit from our programmes. We then measure against the six capitals (natural, social, intellectual, manufactured, human, financial).
This comprehensive approach is not yet commonplace for all businesses, consequently even with the best intentions, social value programmes can sometimes fail to deliver what the local community needs.
We have shown through the Covid-19 pandemic that businesses and communities can work together to ensure the best outcomes, so we are in a good place to carry this on by working collaboratively to maximise the positive impacts for society.”