What does social value mean for FM?

Increasingly, today’s business leaders look beyond an organisation’s financial bottom line, demanding greater scrutiny and transparency of its approach to social value. FM providers are more frequently being asked by clients, in both public and private sectors, to deliver social value as part of their contractual performance and impact. Equally, they have their own genuine desire to operate as modern, socially responsible businesses.

These trends are backed by our own annual sustainability surveys which have identified a growing move away from the tick-box culture towards the importance of longer-term environmental and social impacts. Indeed, the 2018 sustainability survey highlights the re-defining of a new sustainability agenda, comprising not just environmental concerns, but also embracing economic and social measures such as pay, diversity, modern slavery and wellbeing. It is worth noting that social value and sustainability are often interchangeable terms, which can give rise to confusion about what is being discussed. 

There is also a growing call within the workplace and facilities management profession for a commonly-agreed industry definition of social value and a standardised framework of financial and non-financial metrics. This would help the profession to define what our broader impact and relationship with society is in terms of the jobs that we create, the environmental improvements we make and the technological solutions we can deliver.

Our profession needs to drive momentum in this debate, proposing solutions to clients rather than responding to their queries. Supported by our Sustainability SIG and a Leaders Forum Discussion Paper on Social Value in FM (see link below), IWFM is taking a lead role in working with partners towards the creation of social value metrics in FM so that the profession can demonstrate its added value through the use of minimum reporting standards.

This is particularly important at a time when Government is looking to implement a social value framework. In August 2018 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its new Civil Society Strategy, Building A Future That Works For Everyone, a comprehensive vision for how Government will work with businesses and communities to create a fairer, stronger society. 

IWFM welcomes many of the initiatives outlined in the strategy, particularly the Government’s aim of making greater use of social value in its supply chain and of designing a framework for better measuring social value. We were pleased to see that many of the recommendations we submitted to the Civil Society consultation were taken on board and we look forward to working with Government and social enterprise platforms to develop these initiatives.


Leader Forum Discussion Paper on Social Value in FM
DCMS consultation on the Civil Society Strategy