5 Ways to Harness the Power of Social Value in Procurement

What are the Advantages of Social Value in Procurement?

Here we discuss why social value is important in procurement, 5 ways to harness social value in procurement decisions, how it goes beyond cost considerations and explore how prioritising social impact enhances sustainability, builds community relationships, and aligns with responsible business practices. We learn why modern procurement strategies integrate social value to create a positive influence on society while achieving business objectives.

Procurement decisions from private companies and the public sector hold immense potential to drive positive change in our society. Beyond the traditional focus on cost and quality, an increasing number of organisations are recognising the opportunity that social value creation can generate for wider society and the organisation itself.  In this blog post, we will explore why social value should be a cornerstone of procurement efforts and how it can serve as a catalyst for lasting, meaningful change.

Creating Positive Social Impact

Procurement has the power to shape societies and create meaningful change – this is no exaggeration.  By incorporating social value into the procurement process, buyers can go beyond their financial bottom line and expand to a triple bottom line that encompasses social and environmental benefits for society too. Whether it’s promoting environmental sustainability, supporting local communities, or fostering diversity and inclusion, social value initiatives can address pressing social issues while still meeting procurement needs. So where to start?….

Aligning with Organisational Values

Businesses and organisations are increasingly recognising and embracing the fact that they have a responsibility to make a positive impact on society. Creating a net negative impact on society whilst reaping profits for a handful of distant shareholders in becoming an incredibly questionable way to do business.  Buyers and wider stakeholders are increasingly asking questions about the companies they spend their money with and the local authorities that represent them.  Integrating social value into buying processes and decisions provides an opportunity to align stakeholder values with procurement practices. By doing so, organisations not only build a stronger reputation and brands to be proud of but also foster a sense of pride and purpose among employees and stakeholders.

Driving Innovation and Collaboration

Embracing social value in procurement often leads to innovation and collaboration on multiple levels. One strategy to prioritise social outcomes is for buyers to seek suppliers and partners who share their commitment to social responsibility. This opens up opportunities for new players, often small or local businesses and social enterprises(1), to participate in procurement processes. By diversifying their supplier base, buyers can tap into fresh ideas, perspectives, and approaches, ultimately leading to innovation and positive societal change.

Strengthening Communities and the Economy

By prioritising social value, organisations can support local businesses and create a range of other social benefits including employment & volunteering opportunities in local communities, choosing products aligned with the principles of the circular economy (2) (reduce-reuse-recycle) and the reinvestment of profits by these providers to create more social value. They can also foster inclusive growth by prioritising suppliers that invest in fair employment practices (fair contracts and pay the Living Wage (3)), environmental sustainability, and community engagement. This strategic approach not only helps strengthen local economies but also creates momentum and a ripple effect, empowering individuals and communities to prosper and thrive.

Driving Accountability and Transparency

Social value in public procurement promotes accountability and transparency. By setting clear social value objectives and measurement criteria, organisations can hold themselves and their suppliers accountable for delivering on their promises. Transparent reporting and evaluation processes ensure that social value initiatives are not mere buzzwords but real, measurable, tangible actions that are consistently assessed and improved upon (4).

Conclusion

Social value is not just a buzzword; it is a profound shift in the way we think about procurement. By embracing social value as a core principle in procurement, organisations can and do create huge shifts in the creation of positive social impact, align with their values, drive innovation and collaboration, strengthen communities and the economy, and enhance accountability and transparency. 

Collective Change helps organisations to define, measure and communicate their impact.

  1. Social Enterprise Supplier Directory
  2. Zero Waste Scotland About the Circular Economy
  3. Information About the Living Wage
  4. Help for Businesses to Harness the Power of  Social Value in Procurement
Why is Social Value Important in Procurement?
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