What happens when you’re already delivering social impact as a business but need to get better at reporting on and proving it?
When social value legislation was introduced, community-spirited construction company The Casey Group Ltd (Casey) needed to work out how to capture all the great things it was already doing and fully integrate social value as part of the business. Casey’s journey is packed full of ideas and inspiration for any organisation looking to embed social value thinking on a deeper level.
Construction company Casey has always had community and the environment at the heart of its company culture.
But, like many mid-sized contractors who are doing plenty under the banner of social value, it doesn’t mean they’ve always monitored or publicised their good work. It’s just always been the Casey way.
In the last few years, the company has taken significant steps to put its socially-minded mission front and centre in everything it does: both externally and internally. As well as ensuring every member of staff is on board with its mission, and the world knows what the company stands for, Casey has found new ways to monitor, communicate, evaluate and expand the reach of its social value activities – making their purpose “improving lives” a true focal point for the brand.
How Casey Has Strengthened Its Approach To Social Value
The business has taken several significant steps towards recognising and centering social value over the last three years:
- Employing a Social Value Coordinator whose role is dedicated to instigating and managing social value activities in the business
- Creating a new role – Social Impact Executive – to manage the financial and strategic side of the company’s social value agenda
- Setting up a regular newsletter to record and communicate social value and related good news activities from across the business
- Introducing the Improving Lives Fund – a ring-fenced budget for social value activities associated with projects and other causes the business wishes to champion
- Putting together a Green Team of volunteers from across the organisation to collaborate on new ways to reduce carbon emissions
- Using the Thrive platform to capture, manage and report on the company’s social value activities
In this article we’ll show how each of these steps has played a vital role in embedding social value thinking across the business.
How Casey Committed To “Improving Lives”
Although the methods are new, the company’s dedication to improving lives through the work they do has been firmly embedded in the Casey consciousness since day one. Founded in the North West of England in 1968 by Peter Casey, the company started out in quarries and landfill. Conscious of the impact on the local landscape, Casey always ensured the land was turned back to community use – for example, by planting trees and creating walking routes and public space to enjoy.
In the nineties the Decent Homes Standard meant councils needed to bring their old housing stock up to the level required by the deadline of 2020. This led to the company doing more contract work on housing estates, which gave the team a chance to go into communities and make even more of a difference.
“The set-up lent itself to local employment – not just giving people jobs, but training people up too,”John Walmsley – Social Impact Executive at Casey
says John Walmsley, who has worked at Casey for 25 years and recently been made their full-time Social Impact Executive.
“At that point it wasn’t a requirement, we just saw it as good business practice – there’s no point shipping people in from miles away when we can employ people from the estate. Then the clients started to realise it was good for them as well, because it was taking people off benefits and contributing to the local economy. It put money in people’s pockets and made them proud of the estates they lived on. So it was just something we started to do.”
How Casey Responded To Increased Social Value Legislation
When the Social Value Act came in, in 2012, Casey was already doing many of the things that the legislation required contractors to consider. In 2021, PPN 06/20 was introduced – meaning public suppliers were also required to measure and articulate the social value they were delivering. This encouraged Casey to get even more serious about making social impact a driving force within the business – not only formally recorded, measured and communicated, but recognised as a business function in its own right.
A Social Value Coordinator and Newsletter
The first step was hiring Social Value Coordinator Marsha Hurst in 2020. Having a dedicated member of staff to promote and manage social value activities across the business has given Casey a firm foundation on which to expand their social impact. Marsha is also responsible for producing case studies and social value stories for Casey’s bi-monthly social value newsletter, which is sent out to staff and stakeholders. The newsletter has been a resounding success at raising awareness and encouraging readers to get involved.
Recent Editions of Casey’s ‘Social Value’ Newsletter
The Green Team
The company has also recently set up a Green Team, in a bid to get employees working together to reduce carbon emissions. 20 volunteers from all areas of the business now meet up regularly to share ideas around improving energy efficiencies and getting the company to net zero. From identifying unnecessary energy usage to encouraging staff to car share and take public transport, there’s already plenty being done.
“It’s designed to share responsibility, raise awareness and knowledge share across the teams,” says John, “and it’s Chaired by a Board Director so there’s accountability. We’re all going away and making sure things get done.”
Improving Lives Fund
But the most innovative measure of all has to be Casey’s new Improving Lives fund – a budget ring-fenced purely for the company’s social value activities. Casey’s two social value staff members, its apprentices and all social value activities are paid for directly from this dedicated pot. The Improving Lives fund is designed to remove the issue of affordability and make it as easy as possible for the organisation to make good quality choices that will benefit all. So far it’s working well, says John:
“The idea is that it feels like a free resource. It’s encouraging people to take apprentices – take five, take ten. We’re already seeing the impact of that across our sites since the Fund’s inception, It’s really positive.”
Social Value Platform
With so much going on, Casey needed a central way to log and manage activities and the impact created. The company adopted the Thrive platform at the end of 2022 to help monitor everything they’ve got going on and produce reports for partners, stakeholders and staff.
“Previously, we had no centralised point to log, store and measure our social value activities,” John explains. “We relied on ad-hoc and home-made solutions that only served to disband data across the business in a variety of different formats rather than bring it together under one roof.
Thrive gives Casey a way to quantify its social value activities against a nationally recognised framework, allowing them to monitor everything happening at an operational level and compare key performance indicators across the business. Thrive also helps them produce clear, concise reports so clients can see the good work they’ve been doing.
It is also important for Casey to be consistent when demonstrating social value outputs – across the company, across the industry and to government suppliers – and for those outputs to be credible and robust. As John explains,
“Thrive is providing us with a vehicle to quantity our social value activities against a nationally recognised measurement framework.
“Our purpose is ‘Improving Lives’. Delivering social value is one of the best ways we can live and breathe that purpose. Thrive gives us a tangible way to quantify and demonstrate that activity. We feel this consolidated approach is essential when considering our long term ambitions for the business. In the future we would like to create a charitable arm or Casey foundation, and we look forward to Thrive supporting us on this journey.”
A Top-down Approach
So what has made Casey particularly successful at embedding social value on this scale? The company’s top-down approach has been helpful – having social value as a founding principle and central part of business strategy means processes get put in place and the work gets done. But Casey genuinely cares about bringing its staff along for the ride too – by educating them on social issues and getting them fully invested in their mission. Working for Casey means caring – it’s more than just a job.
Now, says John, it’s time to take this up a notch and get social value running through every single aspect of the business:
“We’ve always been good at delivering, but historically it just went into the ether. In order to elevate ourselves as a business we need to treat social value as a mainstream business activity instead of an add-on. We need to quantify it and make it tangible, show stakeholders and staff that we really are improving lives, and how we are doing it.”
Dedicated social value roles, strategic investment in social value activities and senior level buy-in have all played a big part in making Casey’s social value story such a success – and this is clearly just the start.
If you would like to learn more about how social value software or the Impact Evaluation Standard can help you demonstrate your company impact, or if you need advice on how to bring your team along on your social value journey, please get in touch.
“The beauty of Thrive is that it allows us to report at group level and also drill down into our different operating divisions which helps us analyse and compare key performance indicators right across our business. Also, the reporting function allows us to produce concise, clear and accurate information for our clients as and when they need it which is key.John Walmsley – Social Impact Executive at Casey