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Why are Social Values Important to Construction Businesses?
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Why are Social Values Important to Construction Businesses?

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In today's construction landscape, the incorporation of social values stands as a powerful force, reshaping the industry's core principles. 

From the roots of environmental sustainability to the branches of community engagement, ethical labour practices, and diversity, social values have become the bedrock of the construction sector's principles. This transformative shift signifies a move towards a more comprehensive, sustainable, and socially aware construction approach.

Envision a scenario where collaboration among individuals and organisations is actively contributing to the creation of thriving and sustainable communities. This is precisely the essence that Social Value aims to deliver, a concept swiftly ascending the priority list in the construction sector.

Unlike the gradual adoption of sustainability principles and CSR over the last few decades, Social Value and TOMs have rapidly come into place, evolving from a concept to a pivotal force in construction practices within a mere five years.

The acceleration of Social Value's prominence can be attributed to two key catalysts. 

Firstly, the implementation of government legislation, notably the Social Value Act of 2012, has played a crucial role in elevating the significance of Social Value within construction projects. 

Secondly, businesses, particularly in the post-Covid era, have acknowledged their responsibility in contributing to societal well-being, recognising their pivotal role in community development.

The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its challenges, acted as a unifying force, prompting businesses to realise their role in fostering social value and 'levelling up' communities. What was once considered a mere luxury has now become an integral and lasting change in the way the construction industry conducts its operations.

However, amid this transformation, the absence of a legal definition for Social Value has resulted in confusion about how to effectively incorporate it into construction practices. In response to this need for clarity, our team of Social Value experts from Saint Global has compiled a straightforward guide. This guide aims to walk you through the evolution of Social Value, its current trajectory within the construction industry, and practical steps for initiating your own Social Value initiatives.

In the construction landscape, the integration of social values has become a potent force reshaping the industry's core principles. Moving beyond the traditional emphasis on environmental sustainability, construction now focuses on community engagement, ethical labour practices, and diversity. 

Social values have become the cornerstone of the industry's principles, signifying a transformative shift towards a more comprehensive, sustainable, and socially conscious construction approach.

As the construction industry continues to evolve, embracing Social Value not only aligns with the changing expectations of stakeholders but also positions businesses as agents of positive change. This paradigm shift encourages the creation of construction projects that not only showcase engineering prowess but also serve as symbols of social responsibility and community enrichment.

What are social values?

Social values, at their core, are built for the prosperity and welfare of both the current and forthcoming generations. This overarching principle spans three fundamental sections, each playing a crucial role in shaping the ethos within the industry.

Social

The social aspect of social values revolves around the well-being of individuals and communities. It accentuates the interconnected nature of human interactions, underscoring the importance of fostering positive social environments and cohesive communities. This core principle goes beyond individual welfare, recognising the collective strength derived from supportive communities. By emphasising empathy, inclusivity, and community engagement, we pave the way for a society that thrives on shared values and mutual well-being.

Economic

The economic facet of social values revolves around policies and business practices designed to enhance social well-being. Acknowledging the profound impact of economic structures on community health, this dimension recognises the symbiotic relationship between economic policies and societal welfare. It encourages businesses to adopt practices that not only drive economic growth but also contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. By aligning economic goals with social responsibility, industries can foster sustainable development that uplifts communities and ensures equitable prosperity.

Environmental

The environmental dimension of social values takes centre stage in navigating the challenges posed by our rapidly evolving world and operational activities. Sustainability involves adopting methods that meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. Embracing sustainable practices extends beyond mere compliance; it represents a proactive commitment to the preservation of our planet's ecosystems. From harnessing renewable energy sources to implementing waste reduction strategies, the integration of sustainable practices serves as a crucial step towards building an environmentally conscious and socially responsible future.

The significance of Social Value lies in its capacity to prompt thoughtful consideration of our actions, encouraging individuals and organisations to assess whether their attempt to contribute positively to society and how they might impact future generations. By fostering an increased sense of social consciousness, Social Value transcends the realm of big projects to surround daily activities. 

The impact of social value on communities is profound, with organisations that commit to providing social value becoming catalysts for positive change. Leaders within these organisations implement a diverse range of actions that genuinely enhance people's lives. 

Such initiatives may involve awarding contracts to local suppliers, contributing to public realm projects, encouraging staff to volunteer for charitable causes, offering apprenticeships, or providing work experience opportunities for individuals seeking a second chance in life, such as those who have experienced confinement. 

In essence, the commitment to social value becomes a transformative force that actively forms the communities for the better.

 

The History of Social Values

Embracing a legacy in human history, construction businesses uphold values of community contribution, fair treatment, and environmental care. These timeless principles guide our ideology, reflecting in every angle of our operations. The essence lies in understanding how these values seamlessly combine into the very fabric of our business, shaping a responsible and careful approach. In an era where social impact is paramount, construction organisations play a crucial role by recognising the profound connection between social practices and sustainable success. By aligning with these enduring values, we not only build structures but also foster a legacy of positive impact on society and the environment.

CSR - 1950s Corporate Social Responsibility

A theme to create focus outside of profit

CSR is a term coined by American economist Harold Bowen to reflect the need for businesses to pursue

policies which align with the needs of society. CSR became the theme which encouraged businesses to

support local communities alongside their profit targets

Sustainable Development - 1897

A concept to bring greater attention to the environment

As a result of the Brundtland Report, ‘World Commission on Environment and Development’, a global

agenda for change was established for the United Nations and ‘citizen groups’ to align around long-

term environmental strategies

ESG - 2004

Environmental Social Governance

A yardstick by which to assess impact

ESG emerged as a set of requirements used by investors to assess the impact a company has on

the environment and communities. ESG gained further traction in 2012 with the start of a series of

open letters from Larry Fink, CEO and chairman of investment company BlackRock, in support of

environmental sustainability being a core investment goal.

B-Lab - 2006

A nonprofit network mobilising businesses to be a force for good

B-Lab is known for certifying B Corporations, which are companies which meet high standards of social and

environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

Social Value - 2012

A holistic measure of social, environmental and economic value 

The Public Services (Social Value) Act requiring public sector buyers to assess the positive contribution to society of all contracts was passed into law. At the same time, the term Social Value entered common vocabulary

UN SDG - 2016 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

A set of 17 globally agreed goals to help improve our world 

The goals, developed collaboratively by the United Nations, act as a guide for better sustainable behaviour

and a framework for sustainability reporting.

National Social Value Taskforce - 2016

A network facilitating good Social Value practice in the public sector and business community 

The task force welcomes any organisation to engage in leveraging collective knowledge effectively

implementing the Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012.

Social Value TOM System - 2017

The framework by which organisations can quantify their Social Value contribution

The Social Value TOM System of measures were published as the principal tool for reporting Social Value to a consistent standard and based on the Social Value Act’s themes of social, economic and environmental well-being.

Why are Social Values Important to Construction Businesses?

The UK government now requires that social value is evaluated as part of the tender process for most of its biggest outsourcing contracts – some of which are worth billions of pounds. 

Governed by the Public Services (Social Value) Act of 2012, the evaluation of bids now incorporates the allocation of up to 10% of marks dedicated to social value considerations – a pivotal factor that can determine the success or failure of a bid. This approach is not confined to the government alone; local councils are adopting similar methodologies, not only in their procurement processes but also in urban planning. 

On a global scale, the United Nations has devised 17 Sustainable Development Goals, addressing pressing issues such as poverty, inequality, and climate change. These transformative initiatives are seamlessly integrated into the metrics for measuring and monitoring social value across both public and private sectors, underscoring the critical importance of precision in organisational practices, as no entity can afford to overlook these crucial considerations.

Social values are crucial to the construction industry for several reasons:

Community Impact: Construction projects often have a significant impact on local communities. Embracing social values ensures that projects contribute positively to the community by creating jobs, enhancing infrastructure, and respecting the cultural and social fabric of the area.

Stakeholder Relations: Construction projects involve various stakeholders, including residents, government bodies, and businesses. Adhering to social values helps build positive relationships with these stakeholders, fostering cooperation, support, and a favourable reputation.

Workforce Well-being: The construction industry relies heavily on a skilled and diverse workforce. Incorporating social values means prioritising fair labour practices, worker safety, and well-being, which, in turn, contributes to employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity.

Ethical Business Practices: Social values guide ethical decision-making within the construction industry. Adhering to ethical standards builds trust with clients, partners, and the public, ultimately contributing to the industry's credibility and long-term success.

Environmental Responsibility: While environmental concerns often fall under the umbrella of social values, they deserve specific mention. The construction industry has a significant environmental impact. Integrating social values involves adopting sustainable practices, reducing carbon footprints, and minimising ecological disruption.

Regulatory Compliance: Many social values align with legal and regulatory requirements. Adhering to these values ensures compliance with laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues and penalties that can negatively affect a construction project.

Long-Term Viability: Society's expectations of businesses, including the construction industry, are evolving. Companies that incorporate social values are more likely to adapt to changing societal norms, positioning themselves for long-term success in an environment where responsible and socially conscious practices are increasingly valued.

Working with Saint Global Marketing

Saint Global is a leading company that recognises the importance of a comprehensive approach in the modern construction landscape. The company supports construction firms by guiding them through the incorporation of crucial social values such as environmental sustainability, ethical labour practices, and more. Saint Global is committed to assisting construction companies through solid initiatives such as training and apprenticeships, support for local businesses, and the promotion of volunteering endeavours.

This empowers construction firms to not only meet industry standards but to contribute to social well-being meaningfully. The Social Value TOM System emphasises measurable outcomes in alignment with the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals and serves as a robust tool for construction companies to monitor and assess their social impact.

The Social Value TOM System covers various themes crucial for societal progress, including inclusive employment opportunities, economic growth, community empowerment, environmental stewardship, and social innovation. Through strategic partnerships with Saint Global, construction companies can navigate the industry landscape with a focus on sustainability and socially conscious practices. This collaborative effort ensures that construction projects comply with ethical standards and contribute positively to communities and the planet.

In essence, Saint Global is not just a traditional construction marketing agency but also a motivation for positive change within the industry. By aligning with the company's expertise, construction firms can become pioneers in fostering a construction sector that prioritises social values and sustainable practices. This collaborative journey with Saint Global signifies a commitment to a construction future that not only meets present needs but also actively contributes to the well-being of societies and the preservation of our planet.

Contact us today to work with your own Social Value Advisor. 

Frequently asked questions

What is Social Value in the construction industry?

Social Value in construction refers to the integration of principles that focus on environmental sustainability, community engagement, ethical labour practices, diversity, and overall societal well-being. It represents a transformative shift towards a more comprehensive, sustainable, and socially aware approach to construction.

Why has Social Value become essential in the construction sector?

Social Value has become crucial due to the evolving expectations of stakeholders and a realisation among businesses about their responsibility in contributing to societal well-being. Government legislation, such as the Social Value Act of 2012, and the post-COVID era have accelerated its prominence.

What are the key components of Social Value in construction?

Social Value in construction encompasses three fundamental dimensions: social, economic, and environmental. The social aspect focuses on well-being and community, the economic facet aligns policies with societal well-being, and the environmental dimension emphasises sustainable practices.

How does Social Value impact communities?

Organisations committed to Social Value become catalysts for positive change by implementing initiatives such as supporting local suppliers, contributing to public realm projects, encouraging staff to volunteer, offering apprenticeships, and providing opportunities for those seeking a second chance in life.

What is the history and evolution of Social Values in construction?

Social values in construction have a rich history, with roots in principles of community contribution and environmental care. Key milestones include the emergence of CSR in the 1950s, Sustainable Development in 1897, ESG in 2004, B-Lab in 2006, and the formal recognition of Social Value in the Public Services (Social Value) Act of 2012.

Why are Social Values important to construction businesses?

Social Values are essential for construction businesses as they impact community relations, workforce well-being, ethical business practices, environmental responsibility, regulatory compliance, and long-term viability. They also influence the evaluation of bids in the tender process, as mandated by the Public Services (Social Value) Act of 2012.

How can construction businesses incorporate Social Values into their practices?

Construction businesses can incorporate Social Values by aligning with frameworks like the Social Value TOM System, supporting local communities, ensuring fair labour practices, adopting sustainable methods, and complying with legal and regulatory requirements.

How does Saint Global contribute to Social Value in construction?

Saint Global is a leading company that supports construction firms in incorporating crucial social values. They provide guidance, training, apprenticeships, and support for construction businesses, emphasising measurable outcomes aligned with the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals through the Social Value TOM System.

What themes does the Social Value TOM System cover?

The Social Value TOM System covers various themes crucial for societal progress, including inclusive employment opportunities, economic growth, community empowerment, environmental stewardship, and social innovation.

How can construction firms collaborate with Saint Global to enhance Social Value?

Construction firms can collaborate with Saint Global to become pioneers in fostering a construction sector prioritising social values and sustainable practices. This collaborative journey with Saint Global signifies a commitment to a construction future that actively contributes to the well-being of societies and the preservation of our planet.

For more information and to work with your own Social Value Advisor, contact Saint Global today.

This article has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the provided content.

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Why are Social Values Important to Construction Businesses?

Written by the team at:

Saint Global Marketing

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