There are a lot of terms floating around that at first glance seem to be the same as social value – sustainability, regeneration, localism, community resilience – and it can be easy to simply stick social value in there with them and pass it off as just another fad. But that would do it an injustice. In our view there are some distinct advantages in understanding more what social value can do for you, for the community you live in, and for the organisation you work for. A bit like sustainability did much for environmental improvement in areas like energy and waste reduchtion (which also saved companies a fair amount of cost in the process) social value can be used as a tool to enhance the positive of what you do.
Take Birmingham. A recent study found that there are more than 500 social enterprises employing some 14,000 people delivering around £180 million in publicly procured services. And here is the important bit – by their nature these organisations work in the traditionally harder to reach deprived parts of the City, and as social enterprises are investing over £36 million a year into these areas through their own social agenda’s. But you do not have to be a social enterprise to deliver social value; you can still make a profit. Lots of organisations are proving this is the case. They understand that there is actually value in looking towards your local communities and understanding what it is that makes them tick.
Have a look at Morgan Stanley’s Healthy Cities programme for a good example (http://www.morganstanley.com/healthycities/london.html). By changing your focus from the big to the small we can all get a sense of what matters on a local level. By doing this that we can pull social value away from the more generalist dialogue (and rhetoric) that prevented other initiatives taking hold – it has to be real and tangible. We are engaging with many organisations on this issue and all of them see the potential benefit social value can offer. We help de-construct the big issue and bring it down to deliverable and resonant pieces; from here actions and responses can be tailored to whatever it is you want to achieve, with impact measured and social value delivered.