People, Planet, Profit? Well those 3 P are very much at the heart of social value.  The balancing act where we aim to ensure a profit or purchasing initiative does not undermine people or planet. After all is a saving really a saving, if we then have to invest more in our communities or the environment as a result of our poor purchasing? At Aster we say “we make a difference by investing in people and communities.” Therefore part of that investment is about recognising the significant power of our supply chains to deliver social value to our customers and the communities which we work in.

Social value is as much about an organisations mind set at it is about its procurement practices. However changing a mind-set is never an easy task, I will share with you my diet analogy. Crash buying is much like crash dieting , In the short term many congratulate  you on your results, however as time passes what often seemed to be a big weight loss, converts into a smaller or worst still a gain and often a return to unhealthy lifestyle . Contrast this with following a healthy lifestyle and while it may take people a little longer to notice your changes you can be sure the impact will go beyond the new jean size. Since I am not qualified to offer healthy life style advice, I will share instead My 3 P’s of learning regarding social value.

Persuasion, since to some social value sound like one of those “fluffy concepts” you’re going to need to enlighten a few people. You can have the best procurement manager(s) in the world but there is a lot of buying that goes on below strategic procurement. Everyone needs to understand the impact of their purchasing not just those with it in their job title.

Persistence, Increasing the social value we deliver through our supply chains is not some thing that will happen over night. People have their own priorities and prejudices.  Just because something becomes part of the process does not mean your job of championing social value is done.

Patience, apparently good things come to those who wait (well I am not advocating you sit back and wait for social value to appear. However after base lining current social value in the supply chain, implementing processes to support social value, and working with staff on social value. A certain amount of patience is required to examine the differences you have made in your organisation over time.  So while we wait I will leave you with some of my Aster social value highlights of the last year.

Over the past year Aster has:

  • Ensured social value is firmly embedded in it value for money strategy
  • Provided briefings to staff on the social value act and offered advice and guidance to staff who may be tendering for work on how to demonstrate social value. As well as how to include social value in the procurement process
  • added questions re social value in large procurements
  • examined its supply chains to look at the number of social purpose organisations we are buying from
  • Required each department in Aster companies to report on social value through Asters service review statements.
  • Designed and deliver social value training to staff
  • Invested in the housing charity HACT to develop a national model and understanding of social value which looks at the whole organisation rather than just individual projects

This is a guest post by Charlotte Weedon, Social Enterprise Development Manager, www.aster.co.uk

Published by Richard Patey

Internet marketer, author, publisher, snowboarder and editor of this blog.

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