What is Social Value?
Our social value definition fundamentally considers four primary types of social value including community, sustainability, well-being, and diversity.
The following social value examples showcase these pillars in action.
By definition, to be socially valuable an organisation needs to engage in activities that transform the social space. This can be achieved by directly engaging within society, as exemplified by Places for People and the Golden Centre of Opportunities project, or indirectly by working in partnership with charities like Regenda’s partnership with mental health charity ‘Chasing the Stigma.
Community-facing projects are arguably the easiest to commit to given the flexibility of the types of projects that can be undertaken. These activities can range from donating food boxes to charities such as Mustard Tree, or more long-term achievements as highlighted below.
Flourish is a community interest company located in Manchester. They provide an ecosystem of support to women through mentoring, investment and coaching to help them develop specific social projects and campaigns.
Flourish play an integral role in facilitating the transformation of the communities in which these inspirational women operate.
The achievements of Flourish speak for themselves.
- 72 mentoring relationships brokered and 30 peer learning and development events hosted for women.
- £26,500 raised by four crowdfunding campaigns re-invested in 41 female changemakers.
- Training provided to over 60 women in crowdfunding, generating a surplus of £106,500.
Flourish actively challenge the inequalities experienced by women in the business space on a daily basis.
You couldn’t have got this far in your social value journey without hearing about sustainability.
When a business considers their social value, understanding their influence on the environment is key. This is ‘sustainable thinking’.
The idea of sustainability continues to evolve. For example, Afdhel Aziz is an innovative writer who promotes the concept of abundance. Abundance is a way of thinking about cleaner, smarter technologies to mitigate the risk of climate change to create a fairer society. This is a point of a view that champions value-driven technology.
Many organisations have begun to think sustainably, with a good example being Iceland.
Iceland’s achievements in social value are worth celebrating. One of the more notable activities that deserve recognition is the ‘Reverse Vending Trial’ which took place at 4 stores and collected a staggering 300,000 plastic bottles.
This achievement is particularly noteworthy, and relevant to sustainability practices within the UK, as at the time of writing only 46% of plastic is recycled. Projects like these provide opportunities to improve the way UK businesses think about plastic in all parts of the product journey.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 individuals experience some kind of common mental health problem every week.
There is currently no consensus on a well-being definition, but one that we feel is most applicable is coined by the What Works Well Centre for Wellbeing:
“We define wellbeing as having 10 broad dimensions which have been shown to matter most to people in the UK as identified through a national debate. The dimensions are: the natural environment, personal well-being, our relationships, health, what we do, where we live, personal finance, the economy, education and skills and governance.”
As articulated in the definition, well-being transcends mental health, and applies to all aspects of human life including an individual’s education, skills and personal finance.
Our showcase organisation has been chosen based on how they promote digital inclusion and skill development, without discrimination, generating social value for all stakeholders involved.
iDEA is an international initiative funded by the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust which allows anyone to develop their employability and digital skills, for free.
The iDEA Awards get people into work, promote digital inclusion, and create a more skilled workforce – and generate social value for the wider social economy in the process.
Whilst there is currently no evidence of their social value available online yet, we have already seen evidence of its impact:
The fact that the tool is free means that it is 100% accessible, regardless of background, income or digital literacy. The organisation perfectly exemplifies how digital can be used as a medium to do good, and to make our society better.
iDEA Awards is social value in the making. For more info, check out their work at https://idea.org.uk
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion is something that we think and talk about heavily at Impact Reporting. We had Social Value Strategist Ian Jukes write a thought-provoking piece on Diversity and Discrimination: How Not To Be Part of the Problem, alongside this article on what to think about when you think about CSR.
We anticipate that the topic of diversity will continue to dominate the social value space, and rightly so, given its profound impact on the success of businesses, and in challenging some of the major inequalities that plague our society.
De Montfort University Leicester have a plethora of external and internal programmes available that focus on specific minority groups.
One of these, Leadership Matters, is a leadership programme designed to address the low representation of women in leadership roles throughout higher education, thus addressing gender mobility with the sector.
These types of initiatives are underpinned by an assortment of charters that embed a culture of diversity within the University. Athena SWAN, a gender equality charter recognises equality achievements and ranks them according to their commitments and successes, and in 2013 DMU were awarded bronze.
For more about their equality and diversity programmes visit here.