Empro

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The Power of Social Value: Why is it important?

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Emma Armstrong

Emma is our Founder and Managing Director; she has a strong passion for social value and how businesses can drive impact through various initiatives.

Social value is a powerful concept with a broad impact. But what exactly does it mean, and how does it influence our lives, society, and business sectors like facilities management? 

At its core, social value is about creating positive impacts. It goes beyond financial gains, focusing on broader social, environmental, and economic benefits. Whether through philanthropy, sustainable practices, or community empowerment, social value prioritises the well-being of others and the planet.

Understanding the power of social value is crucial for businesses and individuals alike. For businesses, integrating social values into operations can build stronger relationships with stakeholders, attract and retain customers, and stand out from competitors. For individuals, aligning life with social values brings fulfilment, a sense of purpose, and a positive impact on their communities.

This article will explore various aspects of social value, share real-world examples, and discuss how you can embrace social value in your life and work, especially in facilities management. 

Defining Social Value, people looking happy at a leader

Defining Social Value

Social value is about creating positive impacts and contributing to society’s well-being. It goes beyond financial gains to prioritise social, environmental, and economic benefits for all stakeholders.

In facilities management, social value can come from activities like corporate social responsibility programs, sustainable business practices, community projects, and philanthropy. It means considering the broader implications of business decisions and actions, keeping in mind employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, and the environment.

The Importance of Social Value in Society

Social value addresses pressing challenges like climate change, social inequality, and economic instability. It offers a path to a more sustainable and equitable future.

For facilities management, prioritising social value means contributing to inclusive communities, promoting environmental sustainability, and addressing issues like poverty, education, and healthcare. It helps create a balanced, just society where everyone can thrive.

Social values bring individuals a profound sense of purpose, fulfilment, and happiness. It enables them to make a positive difference and leave a lasting legacy, enriching their lives and those around them.

Examples of Successful Social Value Initiatives

Graham's Commitment to Social Value and Sustainability

Graham exemplifies successful social value initiatives through their comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. Focused on Environment, Communities, People, and Ambition, they align their efforts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Key initiatives include biodiversity projects, achieving net-zero emissions, and promoting community engagement and development. Their commitment is evident through measurable targets and impactful case studies that highlight sustainable growth and community contributions.

Read more about Graham’s social value initiatives here.

FM's Role in Promoting Environmental Sustainability

Facilities management plays a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability. For instance, McArdle Traynor Facilities Management (MTFM) has adopted best practices to reduce waste and improve efficiency. They utilise external air temperatures to excellent data centres, reducing the need for air conditioning, which saves energy and costs while protecting the environment. Such innovative approaches demonstrate how facilities management can significantly contribute to environmental sustainability.

Read more about McArdle Traynor here.

ISS and Sodexo's Leadership in Facilities Management

Companies like ISS and Sodexo lead the way in facilities management. ISS focuses on creating inclusive work environments and providing opportunities for disadvantaged groups. They have committed to hiring 25% of their workforce from marginalised communities by 2025. Sodexo emphasises sustainability and community engagement. Their Better Tomorrow 2025 initiative aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% and fight hunger in local communities.

Read more about Sodexo’s social value initiatives here and ISS here.

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Hewlett-Packard's and West Bend Mutual Insurance's Facilities Management Transformation

Companies like Hewlett-Packard have transformed their facilities management strategies to boost productivity and flexibility. HP reduced move times and significantly increased productivity by developing a universal plan that allows quick and easy reconfiguring of workspaces. Similarly, West Bend Mutual Insurance improved its office environment, increasing employee comfort and reducing energy costs, resulting in productivity gains and cost savings.

Read more about Hewlett-Packard and West Bend Mutual Insurance’s facilities management strategies here.

The Impact of Social Value on Businesses

Incorporating social value into business strategies benefits organisations, including those in facilities management. It builds trust and strengthens relationships with stakeholders. Companies that commit to social value attract and retain customers who support socially responsible businesses.

Social value is not just a moral imperative but also a competitive advantage. Organisations prioritising social value stand out in a crowded marketplace and appeal to conscious consumers. More than half of UK consumers (53%) prefer purchasing from companies that align with their values and beliefs. According to recent research from Accenture, these consumers are also willing to stop buying from companies that don’t share these values.

Moreover, social value initiatives boost employee engagement and morale. Employees who see their work contributing to a greater purpose are more motivated, loyal, and productive. According to a report by Cone Communications, 64% of millennials will only take a job if a company has strong corporate social responsibility practices.

The Importance of Social Value in Tenders and Bids

In facilities management, social value is crucial in tenders and bids. Governments and private clients prioritise social value outcomes when awarding contracts, making it essential for organisations to highlight their commitment to social value in proposals.

Including social value in tenders and bids can significantly boost an organisation’s chances of winning contracts. Clients seek suppliers who deliver economic benefits and positive social and environmental impacts. By integrating social value into bids, facilities management companies can showcase their contributions, such as improving community well-being, reducing environmental Impact, and Impacting inclusive employment practices.

To effectively incorporate social value into tenders and bids, businesses can:

  1. Clearly articulate their commitment to social values and achievements.
  2. Provide concrete examples of past initiatives and their impacts.
  3. Outline specific social value outcomes they aim to achieve.
  4. Show how social value is embedded in their operations and culture.
a hand holding a pen over a bid proposal form

Incorporating Social Value into Business Strategies

To integrate social value into business strategies, organisations should start by identifying core values and aligning them with social and environmental goals. This means assessing their impact on stakeholders and the environment and finding areas for improvement.

For facilities management companies, this might include sustainable building practices, reducing energy consumption, or enhancing occupant well-being. Companies can also partner with non-profits or social enterprises to leverage expertise and resources, amplifying their Impact.

Transparency and accountability are key. Organisations should communicate their social value initiatives and regularly report on progress. This builds trust and ensures accountability.

Measuring and Evaluating Social Value

Due to its intangible nature, measuring and evaluating social value can be challenging. However, frameworks and methodologies such as Social Return on Investment (SROI) help quantify the social, environmental, and economic value an organisation creates, considering both direct and indirect impacts. SROI provides a comprehensive approach to understanding the broader value generated by social initiatives by translating outcomes into financial terms.

Other methods include impact assessments, stakeholder surveys, and environmental audits, which help businesses evaluate their initiatives’ effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Collectively, these tools offer a structured approach to measuring social impact, ensuring companies can manage and report their social value contributions transparently.

To learn more about these methodologies, refer to Social Value International’s Guide to SROI and the New Economics Foundation’s guide on measuring social value.

Challenges and Potential Pitfalls of Social Value Initiatives

Social value initiatives have great potential, but they come with challenges. One challenge is measuring and quantifying social Impact. SociImpactue is often intangible and subjective, making it hard to assess its value.

Another challenge is the need for long-term commitment and sustainability. Social value initiatives require ongoing resources and support. Organisations must integrate these initiatives into their core operations, not treat them as one-off projects.

There’s also the risk of “greenwashing”—a superficial commitment to social values for reputation or marketing purposes. This can undermine the credibility of social value initiatives and erode trust.

Case Studies: Companies that Have Successfully Implemented Social Value

Several companies have successfully implemented social value initiatives. One is TOMS, known for its “One for One” model, donating shoes for every pair purchased. This model has provided millions with shoes and raised awareness about ethical consumerism. Since its inception, TOMS has given over 95 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

ISS and Sodexo are notable in facilities management. ISS focuses on inclusive work environments and opportunities for disadvantaged groups. They have implemented training programs and inclusive hiring practices, resulting in a more diverse and engaged workforce. Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 initiative includes goals to reduce waste, support local communities, and promote sustainable practices.

Another inspiring example is Patagonia, a company renowned for its environmental activism. Patagonia donates 1% of its sales to environmental causes and actively works to reduce its carbon footprint. Their “Worn Wear” program encourages customers to repair and reuse clothing, promoting responsible consumption and reducing waste.

Here are some ways that we’ve worked on our social responsibility to support the community:

  • Sustainability Efforts: We’re a net-zero company. We’re committed to the environment by partnering with Ecologi. Our partnership involves regular donations to support various global environmental projects. We’ve implemented a no-single-use plastic policy and prioritise purchasing durable products to reduce waste.
  • Community and Education: Our founder, Emma, serves as a Board Trustee for the Invictus Education Trust, which provides educational opportunities to children across the West Midlands. We also support working parents through enhanced policies developed in partnership with Tommy’s Parenting at Work. Additionally, for International Women’s Day 2024, Emma visited schools in disadvantaged areas to inspire students by discussing career opportunities and leadership.
  • Health Initiatives: We support Birmingham Children’s Hospital, underscoring our commitment to community health and well-being. These efforts highlight Empro’s dedication to extending its impact and fostering a positive societal contribution.

 

Read more about our efforts in our Social Impact Report here.

Tools and Resources for Creating Social Value

Creating social value requires a comprehensive approach and the right tools and resources. Fortunately, several organisations and platforms provide guidance and support.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers a framework for reporting on sustainability and social value initiatives. GRI guidelines help organisations measure, manage, and report on their impacts.

Organisations can also seek guidance from B Lab, a non-profit that certifies B Corporations—companies meeting high social and environmental performance standards. B Lab offers resources and tools to help organisations become more socially responsible.

The Future of Social Value and Its Potential for Positive Change

Social value is gaining momentum as individuals and organisations recognise its importance. Social value offers a path to a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

For facilities management, embracing social value means building stronger relationships with stakeholders, standing out from competitors, and contributing to society’s well-being. For individuals, living a life aligned with social values brings purpose, fulfilment, and personal growth.

Moving forward, organisations and individuals must prioritise social value and find innovative ways to create positive change. By working together, we can build a better world for future generations—a world where social, environmental, and economic benefits are harmoniously balanced, and everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Explore our Case Studies: Full of Successful Successful FM Strategies

To show the real-life benefits of effective facilities management, let’s take a look our case studies!

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