Giving Tuesday: What’s Your Business Doing?

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Giving Tuesday: What’s Your Business Doing?

Now in its tenth year, Giving Tuesday is a global campaign that encourages individuals and businesses alike to act to support good causes. 

This year’s event is set to take place on November 30th, so now is the perfect time to start planning how Giving Tuesday can play a part in your Corporate Social Responsibility programme. 

What is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday began in the USA in 2012 and takes place each year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. That means it comes right after the unbridled consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are now as much a part of British life as they are American.

The first UK Giving Tuesday took place in 2014, and since then it has grown and grown. Last year was the campaign’s most successful ever, with $2.47 billion raised in the US and £20.2 million in the UK. 

This year’s theme is “BounceBack for #GivingTuesday”, as the movement looks to help get charities, voluntary organisations and the people they serve back on their feet after more than 18 hard months of Covid-19. 

Businesses and charities alike are encouraged to become official partners of the campaign – and more than 3,900 have done so already. 

How to integrate Giving Tuesday into your CSR and Social Value Strategies

With events happening in more than 60 countries worldwide, and over 360 million impressions on Twitter #GivingTuesday last year, Giving Tuesday is a fantastic opportunity to highlight corporate volunteering, charity, CSR and Social Value achievements and initiatives. 

It’s a chance to let the world know what your business is doing and to thank your employees for their efforts in a context of global celebration. 

Indeed, Giving Tuesday’s ethos dovetails precisely with the spirit that drives CSR. It advocates “radical generosity”: 

Generosity not as a benevolence that the haves show to the have-nots but rather an expression of mutuality, solidarity, and reciprocity.”

To make the most of this opportunity:

It’s free, your logo will be backlinked from their website and you’ll be sent materials and campaign updates as the big day approaches. 

Take a look at partner stories on their site for inspiration, like this one from Natwest

 

  • Partner with causes that reflect your values and what you have to offer

Assess where you want to make a difference and what your people can contribute – whether it’s money, time, expertise or even just publicity. 

 

Giving_Tuesday_diagram.PNG

 

  • Communicate internally, to boost employee engagement

Your employees are your best advocates, so make sure they are bought into spreading the word. As the world begins to get back to normal after Covid-19, Giving Tuesday 2021 is a chance to reinforce the employee engagement agenda of your CSR programme by celebrating and thanking them for their efforts. 

 

  • Plan your media outreach to raise public awareness

Giving Tuesday UK has made it easy for you to tap into the movement’s massive reach – #GivingTuesday trended on Twitter all day last year and is likely to do so again – with plenty of resources, including:

  • Model press releases
  • Social media post templates
  • Hashtags to use 
  • Ideas for activities

This has been an exceptional year, with many organisations going above and beyond to help their communities and good causes under very trying circumstances. Giving Tuesday is an ideal opportunity to celebrate everything your business and your staff have done since the start of the crisis. But remember: keep the focus on the impact, the cause, and your employees. The story is not about you!

 

  • Numbers speak louder than words

If there’s one thing any PR person will tell you, it’s that numbers make a bigger impression than words. So quantify your activities for maximum impact:

  • # of pounds raised or value of services given
  • # of hours donated
  • # of people helped
  • Etc

This is also the language that shareholders and directors will want to hear when you report back on your accomplishments as part of your annual report process. So turning those stories into figures is a double win!

If collecting and interpreting the data from your CSR and volunteering activities is proving a challenge, drop us a line to find out how Thrive can help

Tools to help your Giving Tuesday succeed

Giving Tuesday UK has made lots of materials available, but if you’re looking for more inspiration check out some of the American resources we’ve selected for you – along with some other helpful tools and organisations. 

 

We’d love to hear what you’ve got in store for Giving Tuesday this year, so if you’ve got something special planned please follow Thrive on LinkedIn and tell us about it!

 

What Housing Associations Need To Do About Social Value

The social benefits generated by providing safe, affordable housing for those in need have always been a priority for housing associations.

And the revolution in social value requirements that began with PPN06/20 and which will take a big leap forwards with the upcoming Public Procurement Bill, poses a lot of challenges for the ways that the social housing sector has traditionally measured and reported its impact.

But as organisations that are already very attuned to the ideas that underpin social value, these changes also represent opportunities that housing associations are well-positioned to take advantage of.

 

How Do Social Value Rules Affect Housing Associations?

The concept first entered law in the Social Value Act 2013, which required all public sector commissioning bodies to “consider” the “economic, environmental and social wellbeing of their population through their procurement activities”.

PPN/06 20 and the accompanying Social Value Model – published in September 2020 – brought about a key change. From then on, rather than simply “considering” it, central government bodies were obliged to give at least 10% weighting to social value considerations in awarding contracts.

The Social Value Model goes a long way to making this a far more measurable set of criteria, detailing policy outcomes under five themes:

PPN-0620-Themes-Thrive-Social-Value

 

While this requirement hasn’t become law for local authority commissioning bodies, it’s highly likely to include them in the near future:

  • Many suppliers and local bodies are adopting the required standards or higher voluntarily
  • The National Procurement Policy Statement, published in the summer, is clear that all commissioning bodies (including housing associations) will be expected to take the three social value national core priorities plus any specific local priorities into account
  • The Public Procurement Bill announced in May’s Queen’s Speech is expected to take the NPPS forward
  • PPN06/21 is clear that housing associations are expected to produce Carbon Reduction Plans when bidding on public contracts worth more than £5m – there’s no distinction between central and local tenders
  • The government’s Clean Growth Strategy has challenged the sector to get all social housing stock – new and old – to EPC C rating by 2035

The direction of travel is clear. Social value is here to stay, and housing associations need to prepare themselves.

 

The Challenge Facing Social Housing

Housing associations provide homes and support for nearly 6 million people nationwide – but according to the National Housing Federation’s 2020 “People in Housing Need” report, a further 3.8 million are on waiting lists in England alone.

nhf-people-in-housing-needs

 

As the long-run economic effects of Covid-19 make themselves felt, that number is likely to grow, as people lose their jobs and eviction bans end.

And yet social housing construction is at an all-time low due to budget pressures. In 2019, only 6,338 new social housing units were built. How can the sector be expected to take on all these new social value responsibilities when it’s already so stretched?

Is Social Value Actually The Solution?

In fact – as we mentioned at the very start of this blog – housing associations are already highly aligned with the emerging social value agenda.

Had you realised, for example, that better social housing provision contributes to the majority of UN Sustainable Development Goals (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 16)?

The challenge housing associations face lies less in ensuring that their work hits the social value thresholds, and more in capturing and reporting the full extent of their impact under the new framework. Especially when budgets are tight, accurate measurement becomes critical.

And yet a recent Social Housing survey found that 80% of senior people in the housing sector believe that financial measures are given too much prominence in reporting and social value too little.

The same research found that a high proportion of housing associations depend on their own systems for measuring social value:

 

Methods to measure Social Value

 

These in-house systems may no longer be up to scratch as requirements continue to evolve, and could be missing important aspects of what today’s social value regime is looking for.

The new social value landscape calls for a new approach to capturing, analysing and reporting the impact of housing associations’ work. That was something that Lewisham Homes – a major social housing provider in south-east London – came to realise.

 

Lewisham-Homes-Cast-Study-new-houses

 

The social value of their work is spread across a huge range of initiatives, including community investment activities, financial management support, welfare calls to residents, and apprenticeships – not all of which can easily be ascribed a financial value.

As a partner in the multi-agency “Lewisham Deal”, Lewisham Homes needed to come up with a system for quantifying those outcomes that made it easy to collect data from initiatives and assess them for impact – to hold itself accountable for what it achieved.

Using Thrive’s social value module, Lewisham Homes was able to develop a set of bespoke metrics that reflects the full value of their work. Due weight can be given to the inclusion of local voices, to community-level improvements, to decarbonisation, and more.

Over the last two years, Lewisham Homes has been able to demonstrate £8 million in social value generated within the communities where it works.

That proof makes a big difference when it comes to bidding for public contracts and securing funding.

 

What Should Housing Associations Be Measuring?

Social value is a broad topic, as the five themes presented in the 2020 Model show. Organisations that have become used to financially-focused reporting may need to rethink how they present their work:

  • Are jobs being created for local people?
  • Are residents’ voices being heard? Are they involved in decision-making?
  • How is your work contributing towards carbon reduction goals?
  • Are you creating opportunities for disadvantaged groups?
  • Does your work take note of the need for green spaces and places to exercise?
  • What contribution is it making towards Covid-19 recovery?
  • Are you sourcing from local businesses? Do your suppliers deliver social value?

All these factors increase the social value your work delivers, but they need to be quantified in meaningful ways.

At Thrive, we use the Impact Evaluation Standard, a measurement tool that uses 52 metrics aligned with the Social Value Model, plus a further 50 important indicators.

Not only that, our framework can be customised to include your own KPIs – just like Lewisham Homes did – giving you robust, recognised measurements that capture every nuance of your community’s particular needs.

Social Value UK defines social value as “the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives”.

As social value becomes embedded more and more deeply into every aspect of the social housing environment, the importance of measurement and quantification is going to become crucial to every housing association’s work.

Is CSR dead? 3 Key questions to ask when evaluating your CSR strategy

I was recently invited to join a panel discussion at a thought provoking seminar at the Leeds Digital Festival led by the fantastic Rob Wolfe of CHY Consultancy, during which I got to both talk to and learn from a group of innovative CSR and Impact Managers. Rob gave us a really strong overview of how CSR has evolved over the years and where it sits today. And while my initial remit on the webinar was to talk about the changes I have seen in the CSR industry over the years, it quickly became evident that there are myths to be addressed in CSR and advice needed on the direction the industry is heading in. So, I thought I would share with you 3 of the key questions that Rob, myself and the other panelists tackled and explore how you can use this information to drive your own CSR or Social Value strategy.

Did you miss this webinar? Make sure you follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter and we will always let you know what is happening in the industry.

 

  1. Is CSR Dead…?

Well that is a direct question, isn’t it? CSR, being the term Corporate Social Responsibility, is being used less and less amongst corporate teams and vested stakeholders. The meaning of giving back to society is changing. It has, in the past, often been a corporate box ticking exercise. As Rob Wolfe put it:

“CSR at its worst is a PR campaign led exercise that is more bothered about looking good rather than making genuine impact”

And, as Rob explained to us all,  no where was this more evident than at VW back in 2013. Rob took us through the astounding example of how VW were given an award by the World Forum for Ethics in Business for being an “Outstanding Corporation” due to  “the leadership of Volkswagen in the assumption of corporate social responsibility and the implementation of outstanding and innovative projects”. Unfortunately, in 2015 it became clear that VW had designed a system to deliberately circumnavigate the emissions testing of their dirty engines while at the same time becoming the number one car manufacturer in large part because of their presumed environmentally friendly cars. Corporate and social responsibility was clearly a PR exercise for them and nothing else. You can read more about it here.

So, thinking of CSR as a PR campaign or showing the community how well you are supporting them is outdated and could even be bad business. Instead, again in the words of Rob Wolfe;

“CSR at its best is social value”.

For us at Thrive, Social Value is the value created by an organisation beyond its revenue and profits. And organisations are in a prime position to deliver highly on the value scale. There is a ‘virtuous circle’ that can occur when businesses invest in social issues and sustainability strategies –numerous studies show that businesses with a purpose beyond profits are outperforming their peers in many ways, not least because they attract and retain better talent and more committed employees. When a business can create both increased profits and an increased social return,  that organisation will be more invested in investing more – into the environmental agenda, social aspects, whatever it might be for them – that then feeds back to an even better bottom line which creates this ‘virtuous circle’ which is good for business and good for society.

Thus is CSR itself dead? The overall sentiment of people and businesses doing good is not dead! It underpins everything we are trying to do in this industry.  But the way we look at it has changed and businesses can no longer be judged on the outward appearance of what they are giving back. We are now at that tipping point where the business case is clear to build it into your structure. And it’s not just about giving. There needs to be a deeper purpose, a broader vision of what a company is trying to achieve and how they operate internally, for the social ‘good’ they are delivering to be really effective.

Unfortunately, there will only ever be a certain number of people or businesses who are truly philanthropic enough to want to ‘give’, but yes there is still a place for corporate philanthropy as part of the mix. And the thing that is very encouraging is the progression of the CSR agenda – or ESG or Sustainability, whatever acronym you put on it – there is now a clear business case for it. If we can articulate this, then even those most hardnosed business execs can find a reason to invest!

 

  1. How do I start a new CSR – or Social Value – strategy and what do I incorporate into it from the start?

The first thing to do is to look at the broad definitions of social value that are out there. We work with a number of organisations who are doing something with CSR or social value but want to take the next step on that maturity level. Irrespective of the definitions you see, looking at social value goes beyond the traditional thought of CSR being a philanthropic or community investment type of thing. Now its is a holistic view of environmental concerns, sustainability, local economic spend, diversity and inclusion and many more aspects looking broadly across the board. When organisations come to us at the beginning of their social value journey we look at the metrics that come built into our software. We look down the list together and ask them to find the quick wins -what are you doing already where you can craft that social value strategy and social value story – you don’t need to be revolutionary from day one – often organisations are doing a lot already and they don’t realise it is actually social value – it could be training programs that they are delivering, employment options, sustainability programs they have in place – so look broadly at what you are doing. Social value is the future of CSR and it very much encompasses those community aspects but it also goes way beyond that.

Another aspect review is once you have started looking at what you already do, look at where your ambitions lie for the future – which of these themes are most aligned with your businesses purpose and where can you have the most influence – you may want to impact food poverty around the world but actually where does your business have that influence? This is where you need to start.

 

  1. Why bother?

I love the way Rob Wolfe summed this up to the audience by using the African philosophy of Ubuntu – “I am because we are”. Or as Desmond Tutu says:

“we measure the success of who we are by our impact on other people”.

It is about having a purpose within your business, a purpose beyond making money and that is really at the heart of social value.

But also… It improves talent, diverse thinking and creativity within your business. In 2015 there was a research project that highlighted 42% of staff are looking to work for businesses that have a positive impact on society and 44% of those in the survey said having a positive impact on society was more important than money in a job. People are asking about social and environmental impact. It is important to your future workforce and so it helps improve the talent within your business.

It improves growth. 60% of consumers are now more mindful about where they buy their products and services from, they want to buy those products and services from socially and environmentally beneficial businesses and not those that are simply seen to be ‘green washing’ or worse; actually harming the environment or community. The pandemic has really focused the view of the general population, honing in on community, wellbeing and impact in a way unseen prior to 2021.

If you would like to take your CSR strategy to the next level, please get in touch. And a huge thanks to CHY Consultancy for running this seminar and giving me the opportunity to talk to others in the industry about what is an ever evolving topic.

 

 

How BBI Group are tackling the climate crisis one Thursday at a time

Here at Thrive we have been talking a lot about climate change and the drive to net zero. I cannot stress enough what an important topic I feel this is. So many of the other social and community endeavours our clients undertake will become harder, more expensive and less effective if we are also suffering from major climate break down.

While I feel strongly that we need societal change to lift us from the environmental doldrums it is however, important not to lose sight of what businesses and individuals can do immediately, on a daily basis to make a change. Many companies, large and small, can often struggle with what steps they can take right now to make a difference and so today we are giving you some inspiration, some hope that you too can be a part of the change – now.

Read more about what you as a company can do to help achieve the net zero goal here.

One company who has taken on the challenge to do more is the Bbi Group. They are tracking all of their social and environmental activities with the Thrive software and the ImpactUK metrics which means not only can they see the impacts of their commercial decisions, they can also look at where they can make further change and where it will have the biggest impact.

But not only that, they have decided to bring their environmental ambitions in house with an initiative called Green Thursday.

Bbi Group are a design led commercial fit out company operating throughout the UK. They specialize in commercial and industrial business interiors, from conceptual design and feasibility studies through to full interior construction and client migration. This puts them in the prime position to influence and inspire clients to adopt lower carbon processes. With many touch points with other companies, the team at Bbi have decided to ‘walk the walk’. Not only do they seek out sustainable materials in their refits and interior design briefs, they are active recyclers when it comes to dismantling existing premises and operating with the ‘reduce reuse’ mantra wherever possible. It is important for a company with so much visibility across a large portfolio of clients to show that it is possible to operate sustainably and implement a successful carbon reduction plan.

To take this further, Bbi recently decided to get the employees further involved. With many of us spending 40 hours or more a week in our jobs, they spotted a real opportunity to educate both staff and families in the need to act more consciously. If they could change the habits in the workplace, those habits could be taken home and suddenly a whole family can implement change. This is what is needed if we are to change the mindset of a generation, to act more responsibly and to take care of our planet.

So what is Green Thursday?

Green Thursday is a day a week that everyone is encouraged to make a change – from adopting a new habit, to ditching an old one. The company acknowledged that they had corporate processes in place to operate sustainably, but at a personal level they knew they could do more. A recent drive to learn about World Earth Day left some team members so disheartened by the shocking facts that they felt compelled to act immediately and to rally the staff to get involved.

Choosing one day a week for a ‘green’ activity gives it more chance of working. They fully acknowledged that asking everyone to cycle to work 5 days a week for example, was both unachievable and could possibly dent morale as it became another lofty goal not reached. So, making it one day a week, and giving staff plenty of options on what they could choose to do, meant that everyone had the chance to both make a difference but also learn a new behaviour that might stick beyond the office.

Green Thursday has only been running for 3 months so far, and yet so much has already been achieved. BBI Group Managing Director Adrian Bateman says

“I have been very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm that the staff have demonstrated in supporting Green Thursday. Every staff member has become involved in making changes on a personal level and we are keen to build on the momentum of the first 3 months to see how much we can achieve in 12 months.

To have top down support in an initiative like this is important. Staff need to feel both empowered to make a change and given the support required to make those changes practical.

capture your activities - win business - Thrive Social Value

So what has Green Thursday achieved?

Some of the more permanent, ongoing initiatives are:

Reducing shop bought lunches – by bringing your own lunch you reduce unnecessary packaging, especially plastic bottles and wraps. While seemingly a small change, this is in fact a very important one as it not only changes a ‘convenience’ mindset, it also addresses the huge waste problem we contribute to daily. According to environmental charity Hubbub, British workers’ ‘lunch on the go’ habit is generating 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually – 276 items per person. You can change this. Learn more at Food Savvy.

A meat free day each week – there are many reasons why reducing our meat consumption is good for the environment but one fun fact is this – By having one meat free day per week for a year, you save the equivalent amount of greenhouse gases as driving from London to Edinburgh. Calculate how much CO2 you could save and learn how to get more involved with Meat Free Mondays, the brainchild of Paul McCartney.

Walking to work – where possible employees now walk to work, at least on Thursdays. Naturally this cuts down CO2 emissions but also has endless health and wellbeing benefits. And where employees cannot walk to work, they can…

Cycle to work – This may seem obvious, but in fact Bbi Group are trying to make this as easy as possible for staff by organizing a Cycle To Work Scheme. With this scheme, employees can purchase a bike and pay via salary sacrifice deductions over a year. This works out cheaper for them, as the money isn’t subject to tax or national insurance, so it makes the bike significantly cheaper than if they purchase it themselves from their take home wages.

Cycling the last 10km to a meeting – one staff member took the cycling initiative one step further and decided to cycle the last 10km to an appointment in Cardiff. Well done Simon Jones – my only question is – did you cycle back again?

And for those who still drive, the office encourages the practice of driving more fuel efficiently – this means driving a little slower than normal to minimise unnecessary fuel emissions. Employees are given the time needed to drive more slowly to meetings or sites, and not just on Thursdays!

Recycling – Waste bins have been removed from the general office areas and more recycling bins have been provided to make employees think before throwing it in the rubbish. This has seen a significant increase in the amount of recycling created from the office.

And to continue the recycling theme, confidential papers which are shredded are now being taken home by employees and used as pet bedding.

No strim June – During the month of June, it was decided to abandon strimming of the verge outside the office which allowed local wildlife to return in abundance. They often have bunnies, squirrels and birds outside the office window, so the no strimming policy has been extended.

On this note, there has been an extensive wild flower planting session outside the office, which began of course – on a Thursday.

Fallen trees around the office have been cut into logs and used to create a Bug Hotel, supporting local insects in an urban area. Many insects are responsible for the pollination of flowers and providing them a home to shelter from the weather, or predators is essential in maintaining biodiversity. Read more about why you might want to build a bug hotel.

Do you have your own equivalent of Green Thursday? We would love to hear what you and your staff are doing internally to lower your carbon footprint and make sustainable changes in the workplace. And if you are struggling for ideas, check out our top 5 ways a business can reduce their CO2 emissions for some inspiration you can act on today.

 

A visiting squirrel

A visiting squirrel at the BBI Group offices

5 ways to get started with carbon reduction today

Climate crisis. CO2 emissions. Net zero. Carbon neutral. There is no denying that these are hot topics and as we have previously discussed, businesses are poised to make a difference. Consumers, clients, even law makers all look to business to understand what is achievable and viable when making changes to our habits. From large companies with vast numbers of employees down to consumers at the end of the supply chain, we can all learn and inspire each other with evolving carbon reduction ideas. Whether we are a consumer of product, or making them; whether we are creating the raw materials used on construction projects or simply managing the use of them; whether we are building houses or running airports, all of these industries and businesses are large producers of CO2 emissions and have a real opportunity to make an impact on the downward slide towards global warming and the near inevitable 1.5C global temperature rise. It may feel futile, but it is not – every action you can take can make a difference. As long as you actually start…

Customers also like to know that the businesses they use or support feel aligned to their causes. 87% of customers will purchase a product from a company that advocated for an issue they care about and so investing time and energy into designing a visible carbon reduction plan can also be a strong business strategy.

So today I want to give you 5 real things your company can do, right now, to contribute towards the net zero goal.

 

What is the net zero goal?

Net zero refers to achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. There are two different routes to achieving net zero, which work in tandem: reducing existing emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases. (Institute For Government) A net-zero target recognises that there will still be some emissions but that these need to be fully offset, predominantly through natural carbon sinks such as oceans and forests.

In June 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% – relative to 1990 levels – by 2050.  Doing so would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.

Green house gases

So, what can you do?

 

1. Set your baseline

Before you decide upon a strategy to start reducing your carbon emissions, do an audit. You need to know what you are working with before you decide what you want to achieve. You may be surprised where your hotspots are and in which areas you can make immediate improvement.

There are many companies who can provide you with a carbon emissions calculator or strategy for a fee, but a good place to start is the free tool provided by Greenhouse Gas Protocol. From there you can decide what targets you want to set and which areas of the business you can easily alter to meet them. You can also work out a longer-term strategy for your direct, indirect and wider emissions involving your supply chain or employee activities.

 

2. Look internally for quick wins

This one can encompass many aspects of work and office life. While these may be ‘projects’ to begin with, over time you can change a culture and make your business one where environmentally friendly practices are used by default instead of through short term initiatives.

Do a waste audit to see where you are creating waste that can be reduced. Some really easy wins are:

  • Paper – move to recycled stationary, reusing scrap paper or print fewer emails and documents
  • Kitchen waste like disposable cups, stirrers and coffee capsules – move to reusable crockery
  • Plastics – install recycling bins and encourage correct sorting

Encourage employee participation – once you canvas staff you may find that many of the team are motivated to make a difference but don’t have the tools or processes available to them in the work environment. Setting up a green committee who champion initiatives and changes is a good way to get staff involved and support employee engagement at the same time. Employee led initiatives are proven to have more uptake and longevity than a top down approach. Ideas they can lead with are ‘walk/cycle to work days’, ‘meat free Monday’ or charity fundraising days.

Repair and reuse and fight obsolescence – make sure you look after your appliances properly. Correct use of the photocopier will reduce the need for it to be replaced and lengthen its life. If your appliances and equipment are on a lease or hire scheme, check with your provider to see what they do with them when you return them for an upgrade – and ask whether you can lengthen the time before you even need an upgrade (it might be cheaper that way too!) When it is time to upgrade, make sure you are choosing the most energy efficient solution.

 

3. Switch your energy provider

Entirely avoiding fossil fuels in your office will make a massive impact on your overall footprint (as you will soon see if you go through the Greenhouse Gas calculator!). There are several companies in the UK who provide 100% clean energy – but Green Energy UK are probably considered the most truly sustainable. They are the only energy supplier in the UK that provide 100% green gas (others offset their gas emissions) as well as the green electricity. Eon, Octopus and Ecotricity are all worth a look too.

 

4. Make your voice heard

Tell your Member of Parliament or local councilors that you think action on climate change is important and ask to see their current strategies and upcoming plans. Local councilors are the easiest to reach and will have the quickest way of raising an issue or getting through the red tape. Ultimately, steps to reduce carbon emissions will have a positive impact on other local issues, like improving air quality and public health, creating jobs and reducing inequality and to have businesses on their side is a big plus for them. You are in a key position to make a difference so make sure that you ask to see the evidence on what they are doing now and how the debates or discussions are going for future changes.

 

5. Look at carbon credits

Finally, if you can’t commit to making changes from the list above, the last chance saloon is to buy carbon credits.

This system of ‘CO2 reduction’ is not without its controversy as there has not always been transparent oversight around where those credits are used. A 2016 European Union study found that 85% of the projects they looked at would have gone ahead without the additional money contributed by the purchased offsets. So they weren’t really needed. There have also been other stories of companies not carrying out the tasks agreed to and in one dire example, one programme which was set up to plant trees, actually ended up cutting them down! Also, it could be said to be a means to maintain a carbon heavy lifestyle. Cutting pollution rather than making global offsets will reduce global emissions significantly more.

But if you do engage in some unavoidable activities that increase your carbon footprint, this could be one way to make a difference. Basically, you purchase credits from an external company who promise to engage in carbon reducing activities. Whether it is jet setting or long distance commutes or perhaps you are unable to find reusable energy providers in your area, there is a long list of activities you can ‘buy’ offsets for. Or simply ‘because you want to’. We have seen some businesses advertising that they buy carbon offsets for every newsletter subscription or email sent.

Here are some companies who all adhere to the Gold Standard certification for offsetting:

Ecologi – “We plant trees & fund the world’s best climate crisis solutions”

Climate Partner – “Enables companies and their customers to take climate action”

Carbon Fund – “Reduce What You Can, Offset What You Can’t”

 

If you would like to read more about what you can do as a business to reduce your carbon emissions, check out the 1.5°C Business Playbook. The playbook has been put together to guide businesses who are already interested in climate change strategies. It helps to “define targets aligned with science, set requirements for suppliers, and align supply chains and value propositions with a 1.5°C ambition”.

What do you think you will start with? We would love to hear what you anticipate to do within your business to help reduce our national carbon emissions. Or perhaps you have already been through the process and have made great strides on this front. Either way we would love to hear from you and champion your stories. Feel free to get in touch with me.

How to find Social Value within your existing business activities

A few weeks ago we talked about ‘what is social value’, explaining different ways in which it can be accounted for within society. There has been a lot of buzz around the changes in the criteria for public procurement as we have previously discussed – now, due to PPN 06/20, public authorities must not only consider social value in their tender criteria, but place at least 10% of their weighting on it. (Read about it in more depth here)

This is great if you are a company that already has a robust social value strategy in place and a credible, auditable way of accounting for it. But what if you are just starting out on the journey and do not want to be left behind in this new tender process? How can you show bid assessors that you too are providing additional social value through the work that you do?

Of course, in order to stay competitive, you can’t just add on more and more additional services, no matter how beneficial to the local community or environment they may be. There is no point in having the most robust and comprehensive list of value adds, if you don’t end up winning the contract because your price is out of budget.

And we aren’t just talking about the charity work or volunteering you commit to through your CSR or employee engagement programmes. Social value activities are so much more widespread than this. Do you really know what activities you can claim as providing social value? There are plenty that your business is probably already engaging in right now… Once you know this, you unlock your potential to be considered on a whole range of projects where you might otherwise have missed out.

What are the themes and topics you need to think about?

As part of rolling out PPN 06/20 the government produced The Social Value Model to give guidance around to the areas of interest. We’ve listed the themes and their associated topics below. Don’t be put off by either the vagueness of the wording or the intensity of the guidance document that goes with it. It is actually a very logical and useful list of activities that many companies already engage in. You may just not think of them as ‘social value’ in these terms, but once you look at the evidence around the fiscal, environmental and societal effects, it all starts to paint a kinder picture.

PPN 0620 Themes Thrive Social Value

There are 52 metrics in total within The Social Value Model and so there is likely several metrics that you are already recording. Some examples include

Theme 1: Tackling Covid-19 Recovery:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employment opportunities created under the contract for those who were made redundant due to COVID-19.

Theme 3: Fighting Climate Change:

  • Number of people-hours spent protecting and improving the environment under the contract

Theme 4: Equal Opportunity:

  • Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) disabled people employed under the contract

So how do you know the fiscal, environmental and societal effects of your work? You need a tool to quantify it. At Thrive we use the Impact Evaluation Standard to do this. This measurement tool is a collection of the 52 metrics directly aligned to The Social Value Model, but also 50 more as well. The Impact Evaluation Standard covers not only the metrics, but the financial proxy values and guidance documents which have been designed by a panel of Social Value experts. It takes account of the continually changing landscape in procurement and draws upon the latest guidance from the UK government.

So, in this upcoming series of blog posts, we take a look at where you can delve deeper into your existing supply chain or businesses practices to show how you can demonstrate additional social value, without adding significantly to your contract cost.

Social Value Tracking Essential for SMEs says Kenny Waste Management

Capturing, calculating and tracking social value data does not just have to be for those with thousands of employees and big budgets. It is cost effective – and essential – for SMEs too.

Here Kenny Waste Management – Manchester’s largest independent total waste management business – explain how they can now bring to life all of their social value activities, which has helped them build trust with their customers, and? strengthened relationships in their supply chain.

“At Kenny Waste Management, being a responsible business is at the heart of what we do. We are making new decisions daily and it is critical to us that our decisions have a positive impact across all parts of our business: in our workplace, within our supply chain, in our local communities and in the environment.

We are determined to demonstrate to other Small & Medium sized Enterprises that being socially minded and creating responsible initiatives need not come at a commercial cost. We can contribute to the communities we live and work in and engage in a competitive landscape. Our aspiration is that we are a leading voice and help others in the Waste Management sector to deliver social and financial value to the communities in which we all work.

That is why we chose to partner with Thrive to track, measure and report on all the activities across our business for each client, each region and in any time period.

Their software system is invaluable for companies like ours who have big ideas, but have to be efficient when we collect and analyze data. With Thrive we can track and report on what is important to us and to our clients, without spending hours pulling together statistics from different departments each time. We know that our service is often one of many among other suppliers on a larger project and it is crucial that we can give real time verified updates on our activities and our outcomes.

Thrive provides a measurement tool which is aligned with government guidance, and places a financial value on the social activities that we do.

For the first time we now have robust data to show exactly how our decisions around inclusive hiring, career training, school engagement and carbon emission reduction to name just a few, can have a financial benefit to our community. Being able to demonstrate the source of this data has helped build trust with our customers, and has strengthened relationships .

The Thrive software works for us because it is an affordable way for us to measure our social value. For our business, social value is a ‘built-in’ and not a ‘bolt-on’ and so it is incredibly important that the tools we use to measure and report on our social value are flexible as we grow. Thrive was the only tool we found that gave us the flexibility to report and measure what is important to us and our clients, without compromising the amount of financial support we can give to our social value activities”

Read more about Kenny Waste Management and their Responsible Business Activities by clicking here.

KWM logo

How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders – PART THREE

Welcome to the final of our 3 part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors. Last time we looked at the first 2 steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win business. This week we will look at the final steps – how to capture and report on your activities and how to pull this all together to actually help your tender success rate.

 

Step Three – Data Capture & Reporting

A plan is great, it’s essential. But if you have no way of either tracking, or showcasing the social value that you are creating then it is a huge shame and will not work in your favour when trying to win business. Let’s look at how you can easily fix that problem.

Capture your activities

capture your activities - win business - Thrive Social Value

One of the biggest challenges that contractors face is how to accurately and comprehensively capture data about the social and community activities they have committed to. The stories and images of this work tell such a powerful story that they can often create a chain reaction effect getting more and more people involved and engaged within your organization.

But collating all of this is hard. It’s the nature of the beast – head office needs the information, but the on-the-ground activities take place across a disparate set of project locations and often individual pieces of information are ‘owned’ by an even greater number of individual employees and suppliers.

So, avoid this by having a clear plan on what you are aiming to achieve and who owns the data. Make sure this is clear from the pre-construction phase so you start off on the right foot.

Then, think about how your ‘data collectors’ are going to supply information to a central point within the business. Options are:

  • Spreadsheets/google sheets. This method is cheap but prone to inaccuracy and duplication. With no ability to provide prompts to staff or suppliers to input data this can be a labour intensive method.
  • Database system. This is a more structured data handling and reporting system. But tracking won’t be in real-time and there is still no ability to provide prompts to input data.
  • Specialist software. This can provide flexibility on how your metrics and ‘pillars’ are set up, can explain to staff why the information is being collected, and can prompt staff when it is time to submit info. The system will also store auditable evidence of your activity.
 Report your activities

Who are your stakeholders and how do they that want information presented? We’ve already highlighted the need to convey information back to staff and suppliers as a ‘motivator’ but how do your clients need information to be reported?

During the construction phase of a project you will be reporting on the construction framework, client, project etc. But you’ll also need to be able to easily pull out overall performance for bid submissions.

Also, your reporting should be a combination quantitative (providing data/statistics) and qualitative (capturing case studies and imagery of your activities). Again, modern, specialist software is best to avoid your team wasting huge amounts of time compiling reports in different formats and, importantly, to have all of your data ‘at your fingertips’ for bid submissions and client meetings.

 

Step Four – Win Business!

Win business though social value - Thrive Social Value

So how can we pull all this together to actually help us win more of the tenders we are going for?

As we discussed in our first blog in this series, many contracts now have 15-20% of the marking regime attributable to social value. At this level, can you afford not to have a clear social value strategy and demonstrable outcomes?

You should be thinking of this as an opportunity to differentiate your business.

In a competitive market, what is your USP; what sets you apart? For example, do you have a great relationship with particular charity partners and if so have you made this really clear? Do you invest significantly in staff training and development and can you demonstrate this in your reports? Do you have market leading environmental credentials? Can you use existing frameworks to turn this activity into a £ benefit you bring to society?

It is becoming harder and harder to differentiate on price, experience, health and safety etc. But, with some planning and some investment in better tracking, calculation and reporting, you can really make sure your social value commitments and business values are known! This can really make you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Have a chat with us at Thrive to find out how you can calculate and demonstrate your social value more effectively, to help you win more bids. Request a demo today.

How to Win More Business by Demonstrating your Social Value in Tenders – PART TWO

Welcome to part 2 in our 3 part series on Winning Business through Social Value. This is a guide for construction contractors.

Last week we talked about what Social Value is in terms of government tenders. This week we will talk you through the first 2 critical steps you need to consider when implementing your Social Value strategy to help you win business in construction.

Step One – What Is Your Strategy?

Strategy - how to win bids

Let’s looks at the question of strategy

To maximise your business and community value, don’t go off ‘half cocked’. Your message to employees, supply chain and clients must be clear and coherent and aligned to your business values. If you are struggling to know where to start, you can ask yourself these 2 key questions:

1. Is there a common thread to the contributions demanded by your clients across different projects?

Whether your projects are local or national, based on new creation or regeneration and repair, what are the local and social requirements across the board?

2. What are your own core social and environmental values that you as an organization would like to convey?

You may need to go back to your mission statement or vision, talk with your board or your management team, but you should have a very clear sense of the values that make your company who you are and what you want others to know about you.

Combine your answers to these questions to define 3 – 5 ‘pillars’ to your CSR & Social Value Strategy. Typical examples are:
  • Employment and skills
  • Community and Volunteering
  • Local Economic Benefit
  • Environment
  • Health and Wellbeing
These pillars will guide the decisions you make and how you want your social value strategy to be formed.

Once you’ve set these pillars, decide what the outcomes (or ‘metrics’) are that you will need to accurately track and report.

You will want to be able to demonstrate your social and environmental activities and so these must be monitored and reported. The most common examples we see, include:

  • Graduate placements
  • Apprenticeship weeks
  • Community donations
  • Community days volunteering
  • Local SME spend under 10,20,30,40 miles
  • Spend with social enterprise
  • Waste diverted from landfill
  • Construction waste produced

Have 3-5 core outcomes per ‘pillar’. You will then have 10-20 areas which are your core outcomes. Track these for every project – you will then have a reliable framework to use to confidently demonstrate your company’s social and environmental contribution.

Layer in additional metrics as and when they are required by your clients for individual projects. Make sure you are asking your clients what their local needs are at the beginning – don’t assume they remain unchanged from project to project. Work with them to provide what they need.

Note: some of your outcomes/metrics will need a ‘proxy value’ to convert from units measured to a £ measure of social value (e.g. apprentice weeks worked). Proxy values can be obtained from a number of freely available public sources (a good consultant will be able to advise) or from one of the many commercially available frameworks.

Step Two – Engagement & Communication

Strategy - communicate with staff

The second step you need to work through is the engagement and ‘buy in’ from your staff and stakeholders. There’s no point in your senior team devising the perfect strategy, if you don’t get acceptance from your supply chain and employees who will be executing and recording your social and environmental contributions on-the-ground at a project level. Part of this comes from step 1 – making sure you are aware of the values that are important to the business and that this is not only conveyed across the board, but ‘lived’.

An easy way to convey the message is to create a simple comms plan. Key attributes of this are:

  • Explaining why the business is delivering on social and environmental commitments
  • Clearly explaining the specific role each person plays, what tasks they will be expected to complete, and how they will record what they’ve done
  • Describing clearly to individuals how their contribution will make a difference to the bigger picture – to society, to the business and ultimately back to their job satisfaction and security
  • Reward and recognise achievements – even if it’s a simple ‘thank you’

Other key things to consider are:

  • What are the key messages you want to convey about your business values? Continually reinforce these.
  • What channels do you use to convey these messages – email, intranet, one-to-one? Only you know your demographic.
  • How frequently do you reinforce the message? Also look out for key dates or events in the year e.g. national apprenticeship week.
  • Are there incentives for hitting targets?
  • How will you report back performance to individuals, both on their own performance and the overall company performance?
This table is a handy little reference tool to keep you in check. Add the necessary elements to your calendar and delegate where appropriate.

Social Value Engagement Table

So now you know the first two steps to winning more business with Social Value; Define your strategy, keep your message clear and make sure you communicate effectively to all those involved.? Next week we will look at how to capture the social value you provide, and how to use this to win the business you need.

Want to read more? Learn what exactly is Social Value.