As the country rebuilds after the effects of Covid-19, there’s increasing pressure on both the private and public sectors to do more to deliver positive results to communities that need it most.
The public sector has tremendous buying power, spending £69bn each year on contracts for vital services, and it’s only right that they ensure the spend drives broader benefits around social, economic and environmental challenges. We’ve got to make social value pay and by that, I mean deliver better outcomes for multiple stakeholders. This isn’t just about ticking the corporate social responsibility box: results from the Edelman trust barometer 2020 showed that 86% of respondents expect CEOs to publicly speak out on societal challenges such as the impact of the pandemic, job automation or local community issues. And 68% believe CEOs “should step in when government does not fix societal problems”. It’s clear Covid-19 has sharpened the public’s social value senses.
As Capita’s CEO of Government Services, I’m proud to say that we have placed our responsible business strategy at the heart of responding to the effects of the pandemic. As a business with around 56,000 colleagues globally, who interact with the lives of millions of global citizens every day, it’s imperative that we make commercial decisions in a way that contributes to building a society that improves livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent, and strives to leave no one behind.
Our responsible business strategy is based on four pillars:
- People – we strive to prioritise our colleagues’ wellbeing, engage our colleagues, reimagine our workplaces and focus on building a workplace that is inclusive of everyone.
- Communities – we will seek to tackle social inequalities, especially around youth unemployment, and enable digital skills and access to technology for everyone.
- Planet – we will reduce our environmental impact, adapt to climate change and support our clients to transition to a low carbon economy.
- Operating responsibly – we are committed to operate responsibly in our client relations, supplier engagement and ensure we’re an ethical business.
We are a strategic supplier to the UK Government, which also has recently introduced a new social value model to ensure suppliers demonstrate they are responsible corporate citizens. These are based on the five key areas of helping local communities recover from the impact of Covid-19, tackling economic equality such as supporting small businesses, creating equal opportunities (in particular closing the inequality gap), fighting climate change and improving health and wellbeing. This isn’t just about saying the right thing, it’s also formally mandated in the UK Government’s new procurement guidelines. The minimum weighting for social value within bids is now 10%, which means operating responsibly can now represent the difference between winning and losing a bid. The framework really holds suppliers’ feet to the fire when it comes to making social value pay, and rightly so.
At Capita, we welcome this new model for a number of reasons: it provides some consistency to what has often been a confusing area, with different governmental departments taking quite differing approaches; it aligns well with our responsible business strategy (showing we have assessed the global challenges that affect our business effectively and share government’s priorities); and it encourages us to continue to provide innovative solutions and strive for better, not only in what we do but also in how we operate - something everybody should be doing post pandemic, regardless of the sector they work in.
We have been a strategic supplier to government for a long time and I am proud to say we are already delivering social value in a number of ways. We were inaugural members of the Good Business Charter, for example, which measures our behaviour over key areas such as paying the real living wage, diversity and inclusion, and paying tax fairly. In addition, over the last two years we have made significant strides as an employer, committing to the real living wage for all employees and bringing two employees onto the Board.
Many of the services we run are directly delivering against society’s big challenges, for example the Department for Work and Pensions JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support) scheme. This targets those out of work for three months to ensure they have access to tailored, flexible support to quickly get back into employment. And we also focus on improving social impact in the way we choose to deliver services – for example by providing vulnerable customer training for customer service teams to assure an empathetic, inclusive service, and fulfilling contracts maximising youth employment through apprenticeships and the government’s Kickstarter scheme. In 2020 Capita supported more than 20,000 people with employability skills, put in £2m of community investment through volunteering and fundraising and achieved the Fair Tax Mark accreditation (you can find more in our report).
On a personal level it’s important to me to drive this agenda, but on a corporate level it’s fundamental we push ourselves to be ambitious in doing more to make social value pay. This is not just to create better outcomes for communities and society at large, but also because, post-pandemic, it’s more of a business imperative than ever.