A guest blog by Liz Holford
Rail is an important industry in Great Britain, employing around 212,000 people and enhancing the productive potential of the economy by around £10.2bn a year.
Key industry players have collaborated with Business in the Community and Rail magazine to publish “A Guide to Responsible Business”. It’s a sponsored publication, and so written with a positive spin, but it’s a useful opportunity to take stock of current approaches to delivering social value.
Interestingly, the case studies shared illustrate a significant, recent widening of scope in activity that the rail industry traditionally badges “sustainable development”. Many participating companies explain their continued determination to improve environmental performance but there is a significant focus, too, on initiatives that address skills shortages, stimulate local economies and reduce the impact of unemployment.
Network Rail’s largest infrastructure project, Thameslink programme, for example, is clearly leading the industry in using Defra’s biodiversity unit metric to achieve a biodiversity ‘net gain’, has saved £4.7m in three years by diverting over 99% of waste from landfill and is using the CEEQUAL scheme to drive environmental improvements.
Thameslink’s contractors also provide overviews of the good practice activity that they are delivering. Costain, for example, is engaging extensively with local communities, creating apprentices and contributing to the many training and job opportunities for local people that are being created by the programme.
It’s a shame that Transport for London does not feature in the Guide at all, and that there isn’t more about Crossrail, because these are, arguably, sector leaders when it comes to generating social value through robust responsible procurement and supply chain management. The model they use to do so is an evolution of requirements first used when letting contracts to build the hugely successful East London Line in 2005, and then for London 2012.
Indeed, without those influential policymakers and procurers working hard over the last decade, many companies featured in the BitC Guide might never have begun to embrace the concept of delivering social value at all.
What social value will the rail industry be delivering, I wonder, in another 10 years from now?
Liz Holford MBA MCIPS has supported companies and public sector organisations to generate and measure social value, through effective procurement and supply chain management, since 2002. She gave up her car several years ago and so has a personal, as well as professional, interest in helping the rail industry to thrive.