Updated: Mar 15
Social Value Supply Chain Recognition
The Social Value Act is disrupting the procurement process. According to the government social value should now be explicitly evaluated in all central government procurement. Social value, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility are no longer ‘nice to have’, they are now an intrinsic element of a suppliers offer and are being scored alongside service, quality, and price. For many this is now simply being labelled as ‘Responsible Business’.
These new trading standards are being adopted across private sector procurement functions as a further demonstration of their alignment with governments request for this more responsible business. So if you are a supplier this will land on your door mat come-what-may and being unprepared for this is not future proofing your business. Most businesses are aware of this on one level or another and are moving in this direction but few in the average supply chain are truly match fit or mindful of the competitive advantage it can deliver.
It is often the case that service-driven suppliers are running so fast that they have little time to address the issue of social value let alone take action beyond short term measures like ‘employee volunteering’ and ‘philanthropic donations’. Now don’t get us wrong these initiatives are welcome and much appreciated by the beneficiaries and we definitely applaud the intent, but this is not and should not be the whole picture.
A more systemic shift is required that considers not just whether social value is being created, but the quality of that impact. Too often we read about companies lending support to communities in areas that, whilst well-intended, are unlikely to deliver significant long term social change. Painting a bus shelter is not solving society’s problems (unless you’re paying an unemployed person to do it) and arguably is a form of purpose-washing. However, the role of this blog is not to knock the valuable role that corporates can play in supporting the communities in which they operate. They can and should continue with activities that support people that are in their operational environments. But they also should define their social value strategies with the utmost care and seek similar high standards from others lest we enter a race to bottom.
The commercial and ethical imperatives now demand sustainable impact that is measured in years, not in hours or days. This means projects that are addressing the really big issues at all levels of society whether hyper-local, regional, national or global. This must also recognise that in the best scenarios social value delivers for all stakeholders for the long term.
So what about corporates who are hungry to demonstrate their social impact or the strength of their sustainability plans? Could they be missing a trick?
The ability exists within the remit of corporate procurement to request more alignment in social value and sustainability delivery from their suppliers. This is not about beating up the supply chain but working with them to educate, engage, empower, recognise and reward them for their role in a corporate ecosystem that has a genuine commitment to enabling change.
For many larger companies this would require a diversion of effort and a burning question of whose responsibility it is to design and implement a programme to activate social (& sustainability) value within the supply chain environment. Luckily for some who find themselves without a solution Good Karma has developed an activation framework which means that the benefits of this opportunity can be realised at great speed. We call our solution ‘Walk the Walk’.
In an ideal world a supply chain would deliver social value at every level with every link in the chain contributing in its own way. However, imagine if you could activate aligned social value creation in the Top decile of your supply chain across one or more categories. You would have a world class impact story. You would be creating a massive volume of positive change. You would also have significant competitive advantage delivered through market profile, brand recognition and by showing genuine category leadership.
This has to be a conversation worth having.
Good Karma Media – is a registered social enterprise and a leader in social value creation and communication strategy. Contact us at www.goodkarmamedia.co.uk .