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The rise of social value 

Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine
Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine

04 March 2019 Martin Read

Social value has quickly risen to the top of the agenda and with good reason, writes Martin Read.

It is remarkable how quickly social value, and the role that facilities management has to play in its delivery, has risen up the agenda to dominate discussion over the past six or so months. Perhaps even more remarkable, when you look into it, is the opportunity it would appear to offer for bringing facilities management into the public consciousness.

There’s nothing new about FM’s facilitating role when it comes to local employment and training. The profession has always offered a good route into regular work for people who might otherwise struggle to find it. But having facilities management associated with important outcomes such as cutting crime or reducing homelessness offers valuable fresh perspective to those looking at the service from the outside. Being able to follow the thread from a desired social outcome out to the measures that determine it is potentially empowering for the sector as a whole – and it’s increasingly in demand from socially aware clients.

What’s just as exciting is that while there’s been a legislative impetus behind public sector interest, there’s now a wider corporate ‘trust’ dynamic causing private sector firms to evaluate their own social value footprint.

A critical mass is building behind this broader well-being agenda, and it’s a case that’s both fashionable and unarguable at the same time. It goes beyond defining well-being measures as they affect purely competitive advantage, instead looking at how an organisation blends in and benefits its surroundings in the most effective ways. Awareness of an organisation’s use of locally sourced labour, for example, might just become as important, if not more so, than awareness of its energy use figures. The one is certainly not more valuable than the other, but as the consultant Guy Battle says in our feature this month, the local labour impact is far easier to identify and appreciate by both business and the general public. 

This idea of an organisation sustaining its level of ‘trust’ within the community in which it operates might just nudge the wider world into an awareness of what can be truly achieved when a well organised, well structured and well-funded facilities management proposition is in place.

Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine