Can you prove your purpose?

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Can you prove your purpose?

Guy Battle, CEO of Social Value Portal shares a number of frequently asked questions from corporates about their intent and needs, and their journey towards measuring social value.

How do we use social value as a way of articulating and proving purpose?

It seems that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of having a social purpose as their way to build their ‘license to operate’. This is all well and good, but how do you prove that you are actually delivering against your purpose statement and that you are creating new value for society?

Social Value Portal has developed a simple map to help you work through how your business can contribute to societal value creation – which, in essence, is really what your purpose statement should be about.

Have a look at the map and work out how your organisation can contribute; the reality is that most businesses are somewhere in the mix.

The framework is broken down into the 6Ps of social value creation:

  • Projects: the projects we deliver through our community
  • Place: the place or community where we work
  • Procurement: the process we follow to maximise social value within our supply chain
  • People: the people we employ and the support we provide them
  • Product: the product or service we deliver
  • Portfolio: the investments we make and portfolio we create

In our experience, these are very practical ways that corporates can generate social value. Not all of the Ps will be relevant to every business and will depend upon business size and type of work that the organisation is principally responsible for. However, I’ll focus on one particular opportunity that has emerged since the pandemic hit us – Place.

So, what is place-based social value creation?

Essentially, place-based social value creation ‘says what it does on the tin’; it is place-based and is all about helping communities to thrive by bridging the gap between the public, private and third sectors.

A place-based initiative taps into the community spirit of every person and every business that lives and works in the area, and galvanises the power of collective action to help the community to recover, rebuild and renew.

A Community of Place is defined as an area where all members of the community, across all sectors of society, recognise and act on their collective responsibility to help that community recover, rebuild and renew.For businesses, this does not mean they need to take on the responsibilities that the local authority would normally deliver. What is being asked here is for a business to recognise its agency within a place, and to take responsibility for doing what it can to help the community thrive.

For instance:

  • Local supply chain – where possible buy local and from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), social enterprises or charities.
  • Procurement – Embed the spirit of the Social Value Act into your procurement decision-making by requiring all of your suppliers to do their bit within your community.
  • Planning and new development – If your business is involved in new development, ensure that social value creation is embedded into your design strategy and aligned to relevant social outcomes.
  • Grants, philanthropy and CSR – Find ways to influence or promote grant-giving and philanthropy to deliver against the community needs and ensure your CSR programmes are focused and local.
  • Your people – Look to unlock the opportunity that your people can offer in terms of volunteering and community support – the chances are that they are already embedded and probably live there – help your own to live better!

 It’s true that every business has a purpose, and most businesses claim that their purpose is societal, so now is the time to prove it and contribute to rebuilding our communities.

Published, 1 June 2021.

Guy Battle is CEO of Social Value Portal.

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