Social Value Summit 2017 – Social Circulatory

With the delegates who attended the 2017 Social Value Summit now firmly back at their day jobs in their various enterprises, I feel it is a good time to reflect on the position of people in the fast-paced and pressurised world that we live in.

Social value is created by every business sector in one way or another, through jobs, skills, valuing more than money and analysing data to understand the impact people and organisations have on the world we live in. No company deliberately goes out to destroy social value but for those of us committed to creating social value I think it’s possible to do more, to have a sharper focus and to try and account for social impact in the decision making process. This is leadership and when done well, it can be world class leadership.

The single biggest challenge facing today’s leaders is to embrace the many tangible, social issues we face in an increasingly digital world. The speed of change that we are all living through today is infinitely greater than those of generations gone by (Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennials) is destabilising, worrying and in some cases “Un-Human”.

The focus of this year’s Social Value Summit was to start building the bridge that is needed to bring people onto the same accelerating curve that technology is on. Google X CEO Astro Teller calls this the ‘human adaptation–technology acceleration gap’, which in a nutshell means the need to learn faster and govern smarter.

This bridge is at the heat of what I call ‘social circularity’: creating systems that enable individuals to find validation throughout constant change. I believe individual social value is created by maintaining this sense of self-worth in people.

Interserve is doing this through its work with Business in the Community’s arc project in Yorkshire, which involves the company supporting a range of social enterprises to grow and create new jobs. Interserve has also put its money where its mouth is by investing in the Public Services Lab – a collaborative joint venture to help voluntary, community and social enterprises across Liverpool build capacity to take on more complex relationships with government.

As one of the leaders in understanding Social Value, Interserve is using what it has learned to take better decisions. We are using our Social Value Mapping tool to show what we do, where we do it and the difference we make across a range of locations. By understanding the needs of a location we are better able to take decisions that consciously enhance the social value created through standard business activities such as employment, procurement and volunteering.

We’re doing a great job but I feel that we, and UK Plc as a whole, can do more. As one of the co-hosts of the Social Value Summit we are delighted to see it grow so much every year. This year’s event was attended by 350 people, with a further 400 watching online.

Subjects covered in these presentations include measurement, reporting, legislation, working in multi-sector partnerships, alongside keynote speeches from Mike Barry, Tim Hayward, Lord Victor Adebolwale, Lord Young of Graffham, Peter Holbrook, Hazel Blears, Chris White MP and Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society.

Watch the sessions, workshops and speeches.

Mat Roberts

Mat Roberts is Director of Sustainability Strategy at Interserve.