At Maximus, we understand that our success is intrinsically linked to building strength and prosperity within the communities we serve. In our latest article, our Social Value Manager for Supply Chain and Procurement, Sara Peacock, explores how effective social value measures can help commissioners deliver on wider social priorities and leave a longer-lasting legacy.
Social value has become an ever-increasing element in the procurement process, driven by legislation and a growing view that longer-term change can be delivered through effective social value measures. In my role at Maximus, I am dedicated to fostering positive social change and ensuring that our organisation plays a proactive role in making a meaningful impact on society, both at a local and national level.
Addressing societal issues within local communities
One of the most important aspects of social value is addressing pressing societal issues within local communities, working in partnership to identify systemic issues and tailoring our offer depending on contract and location. We understand that communities reap substantial benefits from organisations prioritising social value, as initiatives that enhance quality of life, create job opportunities and foster economic growth, contribute directly to community wellbeing and resilience.
I work closely with local Maximus teams to implement programmes and initiatives that offer direct benefit to the local people, focusing on areas such as employment, education, health, and environmental sustainability. From volunteering opportunities with local community assets to work placements for students, these localised opportunities leave a benefit beyond the services we deliver and offer additional benefits to organisations we may already work closely with to align local services.
For the participants on our employability programmes, we are committed to going above and beyond our mandatory contract provision to meet local need and address entrenched challenges. For example, on the Restart Scheme, participants and their families have access to added value interventions such as regular cost-of-living events – designed to provide attendees with additional support around financial stresses and reducing debt.
Our most recent event in Bradford saw 20 members of our Community Partnership Network (CPN), mostly local charities and public sector organisations, come together to offer advice, support and specific interventions, for example giving participants the chance to speak to utility companies to address financial pressures.
We know the act of giving back further deepens our community connections, whilst providing a wealth of benefits to our colleagues. A prominent example of this is through local volunteering, which often involves our Social Value team coordinating volunteer opportunities and engagement initiatives for our colleagues – instilling a sense of social responsibility and volunteerism within our organisational culture.
Colleagues are entitled to paid time off to give back to local causes close to their hearts, for example, in London we have been volunteering with The Trussell Trust, a network of food banks who support those affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Strategic and meaningful volunteering opportunities like these are vital in helping us to build long-lasting connections that benefit the communities in which we operate.
Embedding social value to offer business-wide benefits
Social value isn’t just confined to local team or specific geographies. Embedding social value into our culture is a collective effort. It involves the commitment of our leadership team to champion our range of social value initiatives, setting an example for the entire organisation.
Through our dedicated social value teams, we provide training and resources to ensure that every employee understands the importance of social value and their role in advancing it. We hold ourselves accountable by regularly reporting on our social value activities and seeking feedback from employees to continuously enhance our efforts.
Over recent years, I’ve worked collaboratively with Maximus teams and members of our supply chain and operational teams to embed social value activities across our business – from leading our sector by introducing the payment of the Real Living Wage in our business and wider procurement with suppliers, to creating new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to work with us.
I strongly believe that an ongoing focus on social value is crucial to stimulating innovation, benefiting communities, commissioners and our business. By developing a creative approach to address local challenges, strengthening relationships and encouraging diversity within our business, we can improve resource efficiency and operational effectiveness, whilst aligning with sustainable development.
It is my responsibility to collaborate with cross-functional teams to design and implement innovative social value strategies, ensuring our efforts are integrated into broader community development initiatives.
Looking ahead, we remain committed to investing in local communities and helping commissioners deliver on wider social priorities. We believe in the power of social value, and we’ve made it an integral part of our work to ensure we offer long-term benefits to our communities, participants, colleagues and partners in the years to come.