The challenges I see for services firms include not having a physical site presence or head office, virtual working and not having the local knowledge of the specific needs of the area. My opinion is that while having a local approach is necessary, you first need to understand what your organisational competencies, assets and capabilities are (see Prahalad and Hamel 1990) and how these can be harnessed to address the social, environmental and economic issues of the day. For the latter you only need to look at research published by the following:
For example (and this is just an example), Google sponsors several challenges where technology is used to resolve real world issues such as opportunities for women and girls, climate change and skills shortages. At more basic level, as part of a local Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, Google employees cleaned up and refurbished computer labs and re-imaged, installed, and inventoried computer equipment at local high schools (Source: Google Data Centres, Economic Benefit and Community Impact, Oxford Economics)
Now I know that the typical professional services organisation may not be a global corporate like Google, so here is my attempt to break this down to an achievable programme that smaller companies may be able to deliver.
Finally, if you come across requirements which seem unachievable, do consider raising a clarification during the tender process. Your clarification could include asking for a revision of the requirement or asking whether alternatives can be provided. For example, I’ve had experience of negotiating work experience for care leavers in exchange for local employment targets. Other priority groups include those referred to in the Equalities Act 2010, Armed Forces personnel or those traditionally under-represented in your industry.
What happens if you are asked to evidence a track record of Social Value delivery? Think hard, you may have done something meaningful without recording it. Speak to your CSR function (if you have one) and, more importantly, team up with them for your future Social Value programme. As a last resort, an option might be to “buy” some Social Value from employees who themselves support causes close their hearts. You may offer time off or a rewards scheme as consideration.
Social Value delivery will not be sustainable if it is a knee-jerk reaction to a tender. It is a visceral and sincere organisational sense of purpose for playing a part in creating a better world. All functions have a part to play in creating your Social Value programme; most importantly HR, procurement, your CSR teams and your C-Suite executive team who provide the visible backing and championship for Social Value.
Content provided by the APMP UK Social Value Group