Driving community investment

May 9, 2019

By Gary Jackson, Group Director, Marketing Communications and Customer Success, Mears Group

Our approach to social value is simple: it’s about making a positive difference to the communities we serve.

We deliver this through our four social value priorities:

  • fair for all, ensuring everyone gets an equal chance;
  • creating chances, which is about creating employment;
  • healthy planet, giving back to the environment;
  • championing local, which is about encouraging small businesses in the local area.

So how do we use procurement to deliver and drive community investment?

There are two things we focus on. First, by having a consistent measurement of social value across all our work. Every Mears branch or contract creates a social value plan using a central social value toolkit. This means our clients can easily understand the impact of any procurement contract we’re delivering in terms of its social value outcomes.

Secondly, it’s through creating a smart social value client. We help them to move away from the traditional social value requirements that they might include in a procurement contract, for example to deliver x number of apprentices, towards creating social value outcomes based on what the community actually needs. We then wrap that up in an outcome-based measurement that isn’t just about finances.

To achieve this, we’ve worked with HACT to adapt the UK Social Value Bank. We created a separate set of outcomes which we use in conjunction with the UK Social Value Bank, tailoring these to make them relevant to people in our communities. So look at lots of data, find out what the biggest issues are in a specific area, and then can go back to the client and show them what we want to do based on the facts.

Of course, we don’t just use the insight mapper tool. We always run focus groups and engage with local communities, connecting with influencers and local community groups, so we can get insights from them about what challenges they face, and how we can work with them to overcome them.

While it’s useful to be able to demonstrate to our clients that for every £1 we can create £1.90 in social value, that has a limited audience. It’s much more important to be able to demonstrate the outcomes that our social value work creates and this is our primary success measure.

Last year, for example, we created over £36 million net social impact, delivered over 600 work placement opportunities to young people, and engaged over 11,000 students through our schools’ projects. Our social value work impacted positively on over 5,800 people aged over 50, and we ran over 980 social value projects.

I’m really looking forward to the conference and discussing the role of procurement in delivering and driving community investment. For me, it’s an opportunity to show how social value has a real place in business. It’s not about ticking boxes and agreeing to employ a limited number of apprentices. It’s much more than that.

Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation. You win as a colleague working for Mears. You win as a business. And you win as a community.

Mears are one of the sponsors of the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment’s first national conference.

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