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29th Apr, 2024

Phoebe Austin
Phoebe Austin
Job Title
Talent Delivery Team Manager
Reed Talent Solutions

The importance of topics such as the environment, inclusivity, and tackling workplace inequality cannot be underestimated in the modern world. 

We live in a society where there is an increasing understanding of value, focusing on the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and our environment. 

At the heart of this is the implementation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, a set of values which look to place the planet, people, and responsible business at the forefront of what organisations do. 

ESG is not a new concept. Indeed, it dates back to the mid-2000s when an investment expert, Ivo Knoepfel, wrote a report in which he said the analysis of environmental, social and governance factors would help identify risks, impact the evaluation of a business, and lead to positive social change. 

His work was called, simply, ‘Who Cares Wins’

That idea of who cares wins is central to the pursuit of social value within organisations. It moves beyond using money to indicate value, putting the emphasis on engaging people to understand the impact of decisions. 

Furthermore, the absence of social value is harmful to the economy, as well as to society itself. 

In a report entitled, ‘Creating a Social Value Economy’, analysis by Social Enterprise UK found that between 2010 and 2020 more than £760bn worth of opportunities to create economic, social and environmental value were missed. 

The report said that while social value has proven itself across a "variety of sectors”, opportunities have been missed and its adoption needs to be accelerated. 

It stated that social value needs to be “the default [method] in the public sector” and furthermore that what works in the public sector “should also work for our largest companies”.  

It adds that if social value is given prominence in decision-making across public and private sectors, by 2032, social value should be influencing the spending of the UK’s 7,700 large businesses, which collectively spend £114bn on procurement every year. 

Social value and recruitment 

Within recruitment, social value has the power to be the golden thread that runs through all hiring activity, shaping the way organisations are run, empowering communities, and boosting diversity. 

Finding people employment or helping jobseekers to get back into work can change communities. The simple process of giving a person the ability to find work has a massive impact on their life, providing purpose and confidence. 

Meaningful employment is a right for everyone and implementing social value schemes within communities can change the narrative around finding work. From providing jobseeking advice and interview guidance to establishing mentoring programmes, those in the recruitment industry are extremely well equipped to support people in their employment journeys. 

By injecting social value into a community, real, long-term and sustainable change can be achieved. For example, promoting employment and specific roles at local job fairs, or working with local small and medium-sized enterprises or ethnically diverse suppliers, will ensure the benefits of new jobs are seen by local businesses. As these organisations prosper, economic benefits will be seen across local communities. 

Using social value to create diverse talent pools 

Social value plays a vitally important role in helping local communities and economies to prosper. Businesses or local authorities are able to recruit better trained, motivated and engaged employees, meaning their performance levels improve. Meanwhile, people in the community will reap the rewards of employment, having more disposable income and higher confidence levels.  

For example, implementing initiatives which feature community engagement and outreach efforts aimed at building relationships with diverse populations can be hugely powerful.

This can involve partnering with schools, community groups or charities to identify and support talent within underrepresented communities. By actively engaging with these groups and working to understand their needs, businesses can build trust, collaboration, and support within the local community.

Social value initiatives have the power to leverage community networks and connections to expand access to opportunities for diverse talent. This can include networking events, mentorship programmes, and professional development opportunities that connect individuals from diverse backgrounds with established professionals and employers.

By facilitating connections and relationships across different sectors and industries, community pathways are created for diverse talent to enter and succeed in the workforce of local organisations. In turn, this will drive economic growth, foster innovation, and promote inclusivity.

The removal of systemic barriers that hinder workplace diversity creates an environment where everyone can feel valued and respected, further attracting talent from diverse backgrounds who may previously have felt marginalised or overlooked.

Social value in action

At Reed Talent Solutions, the importance of social value can be seen in everything we do. Our very purpose is “improving lives through work”, with the aim of creating meaningful employment for everyone.

That involves doing everything from attending face-to-face career sessions, providing mock interviews, and CV support, to helping unemployed people gain temporary and temporary-to-permanent opportunities, as well as providing apprenticeship opportunities.

Some of the ways we have provided social value within our work include:  

  • Careers fairs - In a recent three-month period, our Greater Manchester direct sourcing team attended more than seven careers fairs in the North West, visiting places including Bolton, Wigan and Stockport. 

  • Boosting diversity - My own team, the UK Volume Talent Acquisition Centre, has carried out work to help with recruitment into EE’s contact centres to help improve the diversity of their customer agents, so that the demographic of the workforce mirrors that of their customers. We partnered with the Jobcentre in Cardiff, Doncaster, Dundee, and Lincoln and worked closely with over-50s work coaches to support people to return to work after redundancies and gaps in employment, emphasising the value EE add to the community. 

  • Working with young people – Our work with Sheffield City Council has seen Reed Talent Solutions help tackle the challenge of raising aspirations in young people by addressing their lack of social capital, career support, and the complex educational landscape. Our team has provided mentorship to pupils between Year 9 and Year 11, assisting young people from low social economic backgrounds to have meaningful workplace interactions. It has been found that enabling access to four or more employer encounters can significantly improve life outcomes for young people and, in return, support the development of the local economy. 

  • Transforming communities – In Sheffield, we have been involved in a host of social value activities, from volunteering within the community helping young people and adults into work, raising money for charities, donating Christmas and Easter gifts for local community initiatives, and providing career insights. We work with welfare-to-work organisations and Jobcentres to promote employment opportunities by attending face-to-face career sessions, providing mock interviews, CV support, and by helping unemployed people gain opportunities to work. 

  • Providing tips and advice for jobseekers – We have produced guides which provide useful hints and tips for jobseekers. Of course, we would always recommend that people register with a recruitment company for temporary, permanent and interim opportunities. But our guide provides people with information on where to begin their job search, the benefits of temporary versus permanent opportunities, and how people can fine-tune their CV and be proactive. By providing such information, we can help people feel confident in their job search, equipping them with the tools they need to get on the career ladder for the first time or take their next steps on it. 

  • Apprenticeships - We work to help organisations hire for potential, giving them access to a diverse range of talent. This is done through internships, graduate schemes, new career programmes, and – of course – apprenticeships. Apprenticeships deliver social value by providing training and the opportunity for skills development. Providing young people and adults with these skills will not only boost their employment prospects, but also improve their social mobility.

  • Delivering social value - The Social Value Model Act (2020) says apprenticeships are an example of a social value deliverable, which means those organisations which offer them can rate highly when it comes to procurement bids, if they can demonstrate social value as part of those apprenticeship schemes. In short, the benefits of apprenticeships include increased employment prospects for young people and adults, increased social mobility, a reduction in skills shortages, and improved organisational reputation.

On a wider scale, social value needs to be close to the top of any list of priorities throughout any project. Organisations need to continually identify the requirements of the community in which that project is delivered.

By demanding social value as part of any scheme, the potential to maximise benefits for local communities and businesses can be unlocked, creating employment opportunities and boosting skills development.  This can only be good for all involved, whether it be those organisations looking for new talent, the hiring companies providing it, or the people whose lives would be transformed by finding work.  

After all, who cares wins.  

At Reed Talent Solutions, we combine a strong emphasis on corporate responsibility and an excellent track record of social impact, with philanthropy and sustainability. Find out more here.

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