How social value reporting gives one IT company a commercial edge

Stone, a Converge Company, has expanded social value reporting to encompass all parts of the business – and it gives the IT company a competitive edge.

The UK IT sector is still a relative newcomer to social value, but that didn’t stop trailblazers at Stone, a Converge Company, from adopting Thrive software to consolidate and demonstrate the great work they were already doing in the social value space.

But that’s not all. Stone has created a range of custom metrics, to be reported alongside Thrive’s existing social value metrics, to give their customers a complete view of the positive impact Stone has. The result? A solid, robust and repeatable process that expands and streamlines all facets of social value reporting for thousands of customers.

The results have motivated staff, convinced customers and put Stone ahead of competitors. Here’s how they did it.

Like most UK businesses, IT companies have customers who care about loads of different causes, both social and environmental. But when it comes to showing the positive impact that IT organisations have in the wider world it can be challenging to gather everything in one place, especially when data is stored on different systems.

By using Thrive, Stone have successfully managed to overcome these obstacles. Thrive helps them bring together a range of metrics from a wide variety of different systems to create a single report for each of their customers – and for their own staff.

This report provides key metrics alongside social value calculations. This means Stone’s thousands of customers can easily see the individual positive impact that Stone has created while working with their organisation.

How Stone started with Thrive

Stone is part of the worldwide Converge Technology Solutions group, which provides IT support, services and solutions for organisations across the public and private sectors. Stone has long been known for its environmentally-friendly approach to IT – they’re the only UK-based OEM manufacturer with its own on-site recycling facility and it has a commitment to the circular economy that helps customers improve their environmental impact.

But while Stone has been creating plenty of positive impact across the business – even winning an International CSR Excellence award in 2022 – until recently this was not thought of as social value. And since they had no way of consolidating or measuring it, they couldn’t easily demonstrate to customers and staff how well the company was doing in this regard.

Sheryl Moore, Director of Global Sustainability at Converge, came to Stone from the construction industry, where social value is much more established. She saw a huge opportunity for Stone to capitalise in this space.

“Social value in IT is not as advanced as it is in construction,” she explains. “So we worked together with Thrive to consider what would be interesting for our customers and engaging for our staff, taking into account the maturity of the sector.”

Sheryl Moore – Director of Global Sustainability at Converge

As a result of this careful implementation, Stone has begun to drive a culture shift within the business that benefits both customers and staff while moving the company forwards commercially.

Key takeaways:

  • Showing customers the impact achieved through monthly reports strengthens customer relationships and drives positive behaviour
  • Most companies use social value reporting to meet the needs of their customers in the public sector, but here Stone proves social value reporting is highly applicable to all customers in both public and private sectors
  • Internally, staff are motivated by the visible impact and inspired to make more positive choices within the business
  • As the only company in their sector currently providing social value reporting, Stone now stands out in the market

In this article we’ll explore how these factors and more work together to create tangible business change for Stone.

Stone's repair and maintenance experts Mike Wain and Joseph Brotherhood bring Stone's circular ethos of reducing consumption and reusing equipment to their everyday lives and encourage their colleagues to do the same
Stone’s repair and maintenance experts Mike Wain and Joseph Brotherhood bring Stone’s circular ethos of reducing consumption and reusing equipment to their everyday lives and encourage their colleagues to do the same – read more about life in the repair team.

Using social value reporting to give customers a better service

Stone already provided monthly recycling reports for their customers. The company wanted to develop this offering into something more holistic that covered a broader spread of social impact – showing how much the business was doing without overwhelming the customer with information.

“Giving them a complete report every month, showing every metric, would have been too much,” says Sheryl. “But because the Thrive software is really flexible, we could adapt it to show key metrics – like zero to landfill – to demonstrate the impact we were having by working together. This was much more impactful.”

Stone has been doing zero to landfill – refurbishing or recycling all salvageable devices – for over ten years. But they’ve only been able to measure and demonstrate this impact since they started using the Impact Evaluation Standard and Thrive.

It’s just one of the metrics they can now use to demonstrate the value they are giving to customers.

“We did some analysis around how much energy is used to make a new laptop,” says Sheryl. “We looked at the plastic, the carbon production, the mining of cadmium and lead. We were then able to add those metrics to Thrive and show that, on average, a new laptop uses around 135kg of carbon dioxide. Every time you repair a laptop or buy a refurbished one you’re saving that from being done again.

“When we show this to our customers it helps them see that by not throwing things in a skip, you’re saving manufacturing.”

Providing value to clients in both public and private sectors

Most companies will be familiar with including social value as part of the tender process for public sector contracts. Despite IT being a relative newcomer to the social value scene, there is still a real need for using clear metrics, as Sheryl explains:

“We put in competitive tenders, where we get assessed on our social value offering. Now we have the evidence to back it up, it’s easier to quantify and qualify it. It was harder to get that information before.”

But, unlike many companies, Stone proves social value reporting is just as applicable for their private sector clients. As well as demonstrating the value of the services Stone provide, the metrics can be useful for clients to demonstrate their positive impact to customers and even benchmark against competitors.

Sheryl uses schools as an example of how useful social value reporting can be for clients:

“Often individual schools are part of a larger group. Using the same framework as the schools within their group gives them a chance to demonstrate to their stakeholders, parents, governors, how well they are doing in relation to others. And that framework can then be used to give the wider group a ‘whole picture’ view of all their activities.”

Using social value reporting to drive culture change

As well as being able to consolidate the social value activities within the business on one platform, seeing the data had an unexpected effect on staff behaviour. Being able to raise their social value score within areas of the business by undertaking and recording activities meant they were more inclined to keep inputting data and looking for new opportunities to further increase their score.

Stone team members work forestry volunteering into their yearly program

“The marketing team, for example, have switched from their normal printing company to Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Co, a print charity that supports ex-army personnel,” Sheryl explains. “And the procurement team now understand social value better, so they’re asking our suppliers what ethical policies they’ve got – what diversity and inclusion initiatives they run, whether they have apprentices, whether they’ve got mental health first aiders – because we can then extrapolate that activity.”

And customer behaviour is shifting too. By seeing the impact of recycling and refurbishing in reports, customers are more careful about looking after their equipment, and more likely to send devices for repair or recycling rather than throwing them away.

“It’s not just the environmental impact, it’s the financial impact too,” says Sheryl. “By showing them the data, customers can see that ultimately it affects the bottom line. It’s better for everyone.”

Using social value reporting to stand out in the market

As well as helping Stone quantify and qualify social value for public sector tenders, the company has found that being able to demonstrate social value they can stand out against competitors. Being innovators in the space is getting them noticed.

“You can go to a customer and say ‘we’ve generated £10 million of social value working with you’ – and they go ‘wow. Nobody else is sharing that with us. Nobody else can demonstrate that” says Sheryl.

“It’s becoming increasingly important to customers. Particularly with the educational institutions we work with – schools can share that data with their wider groups, their governors. And for the universities we work with, sustainability credentials are now non-negotiable. You need to be able to prove you’re doing things properly.”

Primary School Trust says Stone’s Installation of Connect the Classroom revolutionises communications – read more about it

Backing up a socially-conscious reputation with data

Stone has long had sustainability at its heart, with a recycling-friendly ethos and strong reputation for CSR. Consolidating the company’s good work into one system so social value can be calculated and communicated effectively has been game-changing.

Mike Jennings, Content Manager at Stone says: “If you can prove your sustainability impact with a system like Thrive, and share that with your customers and staff, your staff will be more engaged and more productive, you’ll get more customers and you’ll outpace your competitors.”

In a sector where they are among the first to make the move to social value reporting, Stone is now able to reap the rewards of their long-standing commitment to social responsibility.

If you’re interested in finding out how Thrive can help your company consolidate your social value activities and show your customers just how much good work you’re doing, get in touch with our team for a chat today.