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Introducing Social Value to The Planet Mark

Why are we introducing Social Value? We always maintain that The Planet Mark is mark of sustainability not just a mark of environmental performance, and as we know, sustainability encompasses environmental, social and economic factors.  

Speech by Sarah Gillett, for The Planet Mark Awards 2018 11th October 2018

 

 

Good evening everyone. I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves!? I feel very privileged to be here with you all this evening, and to work with so many of you who are committed to making a difference to the Planet and our way of living.

Tonight I am here tell you about how we will be expanding The Planet Mark to include the measurement of social value alongside carbon.

Speaking of the social side for a moment, you’ve told us that one of the reasons you like The Planet Mark is its ability to bring sustainability to life through engagement programmes and find ways to unlock the passion and talent of individuals in every organisation.

We know many of you have run CSR programmes for years, but to date their impact and reach has not been measured in your The Planet Mark submissions. Instead, we have focussed on measuring and reducing carbon. And for good reason. Not withstanding the impact of carbon on global warming, methods for measuring carbon are well established, and globally recognised, making carbon a commonly used indicator of sustainability.

Until lately, there have not been as rigorous methods for measuring the impact of our business activities on society. We carry out CSR activities because we know they’re good for the community and for our people, and we report on them in story form, qualitatively as opposed to quantitatively.
But wouldn’t’ it be nice to convey at a glance, the impact of these activities? Now we can.

So what has changed?

Let me take you back to 2012, imagine that we work for medium sized business, and most of our work comes through the local authority. The social value act is launched, and all of a sudden, we have to show how our work improves the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area. Furthermore, our next proposal to the LA, might well be assessed on this this alongside our costs. How are we going to do that?
Thankfully since the launch of this act, a number of organisations have developed methods of standardising measurement and reporting of social impact or social value, predominantly in order to help businesses solve this problem.

We’ve been watching these developments and waiting for the dust to settle. And now we think the time is right for us to introduce these tried and tested measurements into The Planet Mark community, and embed them into The Planet Mark itself.

We are delighted to announce our partnership with Social Value Portal, a social enterprise, that has created that National Themes, Outcomes and Measures to help record and calculate the social value delivered by your company.

But what Is social value and how do you go about measuring it?

It can be defined as the net social and environmental benefits to society generated by an organisation through its corporate and community activities. In other words, it is the value of your volunteering programmes, your apprenticeships, your employment of disabled people, and your carbon reduction, to society as a whole.

It’s calculated in a similar to the way your carbon footprint. Diverse measures are collected for each activity with social impact. Measures such as numbers of hours of time, numbers of people reached, and £ invested in training programmes. Financial proxies, are applied to these to these measures to calculate your Social Value.

Of course, some impacts of CSR activities remain unmeasurable. For example, the value to your business of a successful team building beach-clean up might far outweigh the environmental and societal benefits of your community service. However, measuring the social value of this activity provides us with an indicator of impact in a currency which is globally understood.

Before we rolled this out to all of you, we thought we’d better test it on ourselves

We were amazed, and quite proud to calculate that we generated over £200,000 of social value in 2017.
There are over 160 measures to choose from. We reported on 9.

Some of the activities that contributed to this figure include

  • Giving free expert business advice to small businesses, social enterprises and charities
  • Using public transport to get to meetings, rather than driving.
  • Allowing our team to work remotely, thereby saving commuting time.
  • Dedicating time for our people to attend wellbeing courses.

Measuring our social value has opened our eyes to the impacts of different activities. In turn this has encouraged us to do more, and we’ve agreed a more targeted social value strategy for Planet First for 2018 and 2019.

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