Stories are what bring the work of the Foundation to life and help us understand the extent of the impact of what we do. As someone who has built a career working with people, I am drawn to the stories.
But these days, when businesses are becoming increasingly concerned with social value, how can we be sure that our stories are not just a PR stunt and that we are actually making a difference?
This is where the importance of data comes in. While data might seem a rather dull component of the Foundation’s work, it is absolutely key to helping us answer fundamental questions like: Are we really helping our customers and communities in the way they want? Which interventions are likely to have the most impact? Is our work really making a difference?
To make it easier to collate our data, last year, we launched Mi|Social, a tool which uses the National TOMs (Themes Measures and Outcomes). These are externally-verified proxy values which help us calculate the social return on investment of our community activities. Rather than simply reporting what we have invested or done, this method of reporting takes into account the impact on an individual and/or the local community.
The fact that we are starting to measure impact rather than the value is a big step in the right direction. It means we can demonstrate to our customers the difference we have made in their local communities. It means we can represent the value of our social value proposals in bids and tenders, making it even easier for customers to choose us for reasons beyond the quality of our buildings. And, it means we can confidently say that in 2018, we touched the lives of over 112,000 individuals.
Having robust data encourages us to stretch ourselves. In 2013 we set ourselves a target to enhance the life chances of 10,000 young people by 2020. By the end of 2018, we were nearly 90% of the way there: our numbers serve as a reminder of what we are capable of, and motivate us to do more.
Looking ahead to 2019, we aim to create more opportunities, work with more fantastic social enterprises and share what we have learnt across the industry. We want to lead a culture of consistency when it comes to measuring social value across construction, and whilst we work on getting the numbers sorted - we must go back to our people. It is their experience and stories which give us the true impact. In 2018, they helped us achieve new firsts, such as supporting the launch of the first Prisoner Apprenticeship Pathway. In total, they dedicated 45,000 hours to community investment work – equivalent to around £1,485 per employee. They held 1,590 mock interviews, offered 700 work experience opportunities – and so it goes on. Here are a few of our people’s stories from 2018. I hope you find them as inspirational as I do.
Finally – I’d like to offer my thanks to everyone who made this possible – site teams, both within our supply chain and within Willmott Dixon, our supporting teams, and our wonderful legacy and community managers, who drive community investment through the business, who plan activities, who painstakingly input the resulting data, and who participate in our often heated, but always good-natured, debates about what counts and what doesn’t!