Richard Davis, director in Kier Construction and lead for social value in the Construction business. Here, he talks about Kier Construction being the first company in the construction sector to achieve the Social Value Quality Mark Level 2.

“Achieving the Social Value Quality Mark level 2 is a significant milestone in our social impact journey and one that I am particularly proud to have been part of.

As a regional contracting business with main offices that are no further than an hour and a half from the projects we deliver, our teams are close to, or even live in, the communities where these projects are based. Reflecting on my days as a project manager 30 years ago, I recognise the desire to leave a positive impact on the surroundings through the work we do. And today, I can see that leaving behind a positive footprint and legacy is embedded in the DNA of who we are. This is visible through the huge efforts our teams invest in the Considerate Constructor's Scheme (CCS) to reflect the industry in the best light and through the community work we do on the ground. All of which are reflected in the consistently high CCS scores we achieve and accreditations such as this.

Achieving the Social Value Quality Mark Level 2 provides us with the recognition we do not necessarily clamour for, but one that we recognise is important, to respond to the growing expectations of commissioners and communities to be able to demonstrate that the value of what we do goes beyond the project we are working on.

Social value is a wide-ranging topic and so for any discussion around it requires me to pose our definition of what it means to us at Kier.

We define it as follows: "social impact/value is the financial and non-financial contribution that our activities have on the communities we work in by creating jobs and training, supporting social enterprises and SME’s, protecting the environment, looking after the well-being of our staff and the local community and supporting community events and fundraising. We measure social value using the Kier Shaping Our Community Calculator and commit to delivering “a social value ratio of more than 10p for every £1 of the project value."

Social impact is a golden thread that runs through the whole lifecycle of the projects we undertake and encompasses how we wish to do business. More importantly ensuring that the impact we make is relevant to the local community that we are working in.

Attaining Social Value Quality Business Mark Level 1 focused on measuring our commitment to achieving the social value pledges we made and this was achieved back in 2018, when we were the first construction services business to do so. Level 2 focuses on measuring our actual performance against the targets and commitments we made to support these pledges.

The process itself is one of great achievement. We started to work with the Social Value Business back in October 2019 to plan our way to securing the certificate and after a number of false starts we began in earnest in January 2020. We sorted out the audit criteria and projects to be targeted and began to get the resources in place but then the Covid19 pandemic struck. Working with the social value and corporate responsibility managers in our business and the project teams we managed to begin the audit process but this went on hold due to COVID-19.

Bringing together the information, resources and people to complete what was necessary in such a stop/start fashion was very challenging for everyone involved. All credit must be given to Natalie and Richard at the Social Value Business for their patience and perseverance to keep the process going.

The projects we selected that met the audit criteria in terms of size and number were:

  • Birley Fields Student Accommodation in Manchester
  • Ponteland Schools and Leisure development in Northumberland
  • St Sidwells Leisure Centre in Exeter
  • Croesyceiliog School in Cwmbran, South Wales
  • Quayside in Gloucester
  • KVF35: RAF Lakenheath F35 Programme, West Suffolk
  • P2 in Central London
  • Deer Park School in Botley, Hampshire

My biggest thanks go to the project teams alongside the corporate responsibility teams we worked with in the business. They, reacted so positively to gather the information required and coordinate the responses and engagement of our customers. This is the greatest testament to how important adding value and leaving a positive footprint is to our people.

However, we are not resting on our laurels. Using the Kier Group's new Building a Sustainable World Framework, the sustainability team have worked with me to establish our new 2023 objectives and strategy, which we will take to the business over the coming weeks for endorsement. We see that there is an opportunity to deliver a step change in our approach to ensure that the added social value we deliver is better targeted at areas that are important to the communities we work in.

  • We recognise that there is more we can collectively achieve, and we have identified the following key objectives to begin with:
  • To work with our procurement teams to better align ourselves with social enterprises, to increase our spend and provide support and mentoring
  • To work with our supply chain to realise and evidence the social impact they are having on projects that are not readily recognised
  • Expand the good work our teams have done with virtual work experience during the COVID19 epidemic as a normal way of working and delivering this to a wider audience.
  • And most importantly sharing best practice from across the broad range of experience that we can draw from to improve our processes to ensure that the projects we select are outcomes and impact focused on addressing disadvantage

The Level 2 award is an important milestone for us but by no means the end of the journey.

Richard Dickins, MD of Social Value Quality Mark, said: “Today’s consumers increasingly make their decisions based on how companies treat their staff, the environment and the society in which they operate. Through the Quality Mark we build and recognise the highest standards in values-led business.

“This award recognises Kier’s outstanding commitment to create, report and embed social value within the fabric of their organisation. We are delighted to remain their social value partner as they move through up through the levels.”