What is social value? – PODCAST

In episode one of our snack-sized sustainability podcast, Sarah Hammond discusses what social value is and how you can measure it.

What is social value? – PODCAST

In episode one of our snack-sized sustainability podcast, Sarah Hammond discusses what social value is and how you can measure it.


In episode one of our brand new Snack-sized sustainability podcast, Sarah Hammond discusses social value.

Tune in to hear what social value is, why it’s important, the benefits it can bring to organisations and how you can measure it.

Listen here or read on for an edited transcript.


Welcome to “Snack-sized sustainability”. Part of our Simply Sustainability podcast brought to you by Clarasys.

Each snippet will see me, Sarah Hammond, discuss a key sustainability concept in less than five minutes. So grab a snack and get comfortable.

Today we will be discussing social value.

So what is social value?

There are two definitions that I particularly like. The first is from Kluckhohn, 1951, who said “social values are defined as standards, which individuals and social groups employ to define personal goals and essentially shape the nature and form of social order in a collective, i.e. what is acceptable and not acceptable, but ought or not to be what is desirable or non-desirable.

So as individuals, we all have things we attribute social value to, and this differs across society. If we take a second definition, then we start to see why this is so important for organiaations.

The second definition is from the Social Value UK organisation who say: “social value is the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. Some but not all of this value is captured in market prices. It’s important to consider and measure this social value from the perspective of those affected by an organisations work. Examples might be the value we experience from increasing our confidence or from living next to a community park. These things are important to us, but they are not commonly expressed or measured in the same way that financial value is”.

So whilst it is easy to understand the inherent importance of social value and why organisations should be prioritizing it, it’s also important to understand the benefits that it can bring organisations.

Benefits that it can bring organisations

Firstly, it enables companies to gain a competitive advantage. Consumers and employees alike want to engage with organisations that are having a positive impact in the world and society as a whole.

Secondly, it enables you to involve and engage with the people who matter most, meaning you gain new perspectives, and your service or product or solution is far more likely to have the impact you would like it to have.

Thirdly, it enhances your communication skills, both internally and externally; these are really important conversations to be having and your decision-making process will likely involve and consult more individuals, meaning your communication skills will continue to hone and that they will need to be at their best.

Lastly, it is fast becoming a key driver in gaining funding and contracts. So to remain competitive, social value really should be a core element of your strategy.

But how do you measure social value?

As we mentioned before, it’s harder to measure in comparison to financial value.

There are five key questions to ask yourself when assessing your social value. These are the questions that should be asked both often and also at all levels of your organisation.

One, what are you trying to solve?

Two? What is your proposed solution?

Three, who is impacted by the proposed solution, both in the short-term and the long-term and both directly and indirectly?

Four, how will we measure the impact that we are having?

And five, possibly most importantly, how do we ensure that this solution creates social value?

There are many alternative ways you can go about ensuring it is a core consideration for your organisation, both in terms of the principles that you use and apply, and also the reporting tools that you use to measure.

If you’re interested in how social value relates to your organisation, please reach out to us today. We’d absolutely love to hear from you.

Thank you for listening to Snack-sized sustainability. We hope you enjoyed it and learned something new. Please do let us know if there are any key sustainability concepts you’d like us to cover. We look forward to welcoming you back on our next episode.

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