Driving Inclusive Growth: RTC's Vision for Social Value - Janine Marshall

09th Feb 2024

RTC is a non-profit organisation focused on addressing economic, social, and environmental issues through the power of enterprise and innovation. For years, we have championed the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) skills in young people and those from underrepresented groups, not only to generate a supply of vital skills to businesses but also because of the relationship between increasing the rate of STEM skills and reducing inequality through providing enhanced opportunities and life choices.

It's incredible to think that just 6% of doctors, 9% of life science professionals, and 15% of academics come from deprived backgrounds and that one of the most pressing issues facing areas like the North East of England is the levels of economic inactivity in those aged 16 to 24.

This is a worrying trend that not only fuels the effects of an already tight labour market, making skills shortages more pronounced, but it also fuels a multitude of related issues such as poor health, low productivity, and living standards, and risks creating a self-fulfilling cycle that could affect the economy for decades to come.

It’s welcome, therefore, that driving forward ‘inclusive growth’ is common ground in emerging local economic strategies, including that of the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority.

A growing critical lever in inducing inclusive growth is Social Value. Championed by the Social Value Act 2012, Social Value has become a growing requirement in public procurement, contributing up to 20% of the total score awarded to tenders.

All too often, the social value section of a tender is treated as an afterthought, rather than seen as a tool for organisations to contribute towards addressing the issues that stand in the way of economic, social, and environmental progress, all of which are essential for a dynamic and inclusive economy.

Just so we’re all on the same page! Social Value is essentially about making a difference; it’s concerned with organisations looking beyond financial goals to contribute towards economic, social, and environmental wellbeing. With the effects of climate change, low levels of productivity, and widening inequality weighing on the planet, economy, and society, Social Value is signalling a sea change in the way businesses target their vision and goals towards the delivery of social value alongside the need to make money.

Although sometimes viewed as a ‘fluffy’ concept, Social Value and having a strong social purpose make good business sense. Data from social impact firm Everfi’s ‘Creating a Loyal Consumer’ report back this up, highlighting that:

  • 59% of consumers say they will spend more money with a business with good values.
  • Purpose-driven companies see 90% employee motivation and loyalty.
  • Almost 70% wouldn’t work for an organisation that didn’t have a solid purpose.
  • 58% of purpose-driven organisations grew 10% more in three years compared to 42% that are not purpose-driven.
  • Over 70% of private equity companies in the UK have decided not to close a deal due to environmental, social, or governance concerns.

What’s not to love? More customers, happier employees, faster growth, and more investment!!

The increased focus on Social Value harnesses business as a force for good, providing a critical route out of deprivation. Examples of how businesses can practically contribute towards Social Value (alongside scoring points on a tender submission) include things like linking up with local schools to provide career support, taking on an apprentice, supporting local community-based organisations to provide work experience, or committing staff to a set amount of volunteer days. Social Value can also be used as a driver to tackle issues such as supply chain disruption, through developing a more resilient and locally focused supply chain.

Not only does this help support organisations' talent pipeline and allow them to reap the benefits of a more inclusive workforce, but it also increases the engagement and motivation of employees and teams by providing the opportunity for them to do some collective good.

Social Value is also a catalyst for innovation as it places a focus on problems that require a solution. This could lead to innovations to support, for instance, tailored health and wellbeing pathways, new approaches to decarbonise, or address poor educational attainment…the opportunities are endless.

Getting on board is therefore vital to winning work, customers, and talent as well as building a dynamic and inclusive economy where opportunity is more evenly spread. Social Value plays into the heart of RTC’s purpose and our work to champion the development of STEM Skills, and the support we provide businesses to Innovate, Compete, and Grow whilst making the world a better place. You can find out more about how we can help you build a purpose-led and responsible business here.

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