Advocating for Social Value Professionals in the workplace

whatimpact engaged with over 150 organisations and social value professionals in the second half of 2023 to learn about the work of social value management-related job titles. We wanted to learn about the day-to-day challenges they face, the resources and tools they need, and the ideas they have to improve ‘social value’ as an industry. This led whatimpact to publish a white paper Social Value Manager 1.0 in October 2023. The white paper was launched in an event held in RSA, London, where our CEO Tiia Sammallahti gave these forewords to the audience: 

Social Value as a movement, and professionals within, are driving exciting change in how cross-sector collaboration works. It is a privilege to be part of this transformational change in our society. We all share the passion for ‘doing good’, leaving a legacy, and creating sustainable businesses for the increased well-being of our society. 

In this quest for building a better society, we experience rising demands for a more strategic approach to corporate social responsibility, ESG benchmarking and sustainable procurement practices across industries and sectors. In recent years, the importance of social value has been enhanced with various procurement policies; making social value a topic that cannot be avoided in any sector. The UK has been a frontrunner in this development. 

The fast-growing demands for social value have created their own ‘social value industry’, which now is at a crossroads. We hear many people saying, “It is a wild west out there in social value”. This applies to many aspects of social value delivery. There is an abundance of frameworks, measuring and reporting models, tools and even philosophies on ‘what is social value?’. It is time to evaluate, consolidate and direct the course. 

whatimpact’s research project Social Value Manager 1.0 is part of this evaluation. In the end, the people whose core job is to strategise, plan, implement and evaluate social value are the experts in approaches to generating real change in our society. We must stay true to the fact that, if we wish to improve our environmental and social conditions, things need to be done differently and better than before. Social value is not fussing around semantics or proximities –  it is about doing, hanging things for the better, and taking grassroots action. It is also validating the impact on the ground. Otherwise, there is no way of knowing whether a chosen path for improvement is the right one.  

Recently, the number of social value management job roles in the private sector seems to have increased dramatically, which means that the subject matter is being considered important. However, we have also gotten lots of feedback on the barriers and contradictions these social value professionals face to get their jobs done.

With these factors in mind, the Social Value Manager 1.0 white paper has three main objectives: To explore, establish and embrace the emerging social value job roles by providing social value professions with a voice. Our research concluded with four actions to empower the social value professionals to do their jobs, and lead positive change in their organisations and our society: 

  1. Recognition and respect for social value professionals
  2. The breakdown of internal barriers – Board-level commitments and budgets
  3. Encouraging conversation on the consolidation of frameworks and standards
  4. Access to digital tools and internal workforce for coordination

With these thoughts, please download the Social Value Manager 1.0 HERE

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