The Tanker is turning: Progress for Social Value

Rob Wolfe

It continued to be a big week for Social Value this week with the Construction Innovation Hub launching a social media campaign under the hashtag #ValueToolkit to spark an industry-wide conversation on value-led approaches.

The oil tanker has begun to turn.

Since setting up CHY in 2006 I have always been proud of the role we have played in the social value movement, I have sometimes been frustrated by the time it has taken to change the direction of the oil tanker BUT we have never changed or objective.

Working with some amazing people from across all sectors we first embedded, what is now termed, social value in public procurement contracts through Yorkshire Forward(Tower Works, Leeds) and Leeds City Council (Leeds Arena) back in 2007/8. We then went on to embed these policies within local authorities across the Yorkshire region.

Social value seems to have come a long way since then but the objectives, policies and social outcomes have not. However, the ways we articulate social value, the way we evidence and measure it and its profile within the industry has changed beyond recognition.

I strongly believe that the next 24 months could change the direction of the oil tanker for good. Setting us all on a new course where we ditch discussing social, environmental and economic value as competing outcomes; we just talk about value.

The last few years has seen an exponential interest in the value that investment in construction and the built environment can create.

Investors, landowners and developers are using ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) to evidence, monitor and measure their value beyond the financial. Local authorities are embedding Inclusive Growth Strategies to ensure the opportunity for economic prosperity is for all and not just the privileged few. Design and engineering consultancies are cementing the use of the Five Capitals to inform value-based decisions. Procurers are considering and evaluating the social and environmental impacts of the assets, products and services they wish to buy.

We have an opportunity to fully realise the potential of the built environment to invest, create and operate places that we all value; that are accessible and inclusive to everyone; that create opportunity, enable growth and (let’s face it) make us all that little bit happier.

<paragraph-italic>Let’s not lose sight of the opportunity that we have; now.<paragraph-italic>

<paragraph-italic>The opportunity I’ll always be<paragraph-italic>

<paragraph-italic>passionately proud of,<paragraph-italic>  

<paragraph-italic> sometimes begrudgingly be frustrated by; <paragraph-italic>

<paragraph-italic> never stop working towards.<paragraph-italic>

Let’s set a new course; together.