Triangle Director Joy MacKeith reflects on the Social Value Matters 2020 international conference which took place last week and how it helped locate Triangle’s work in a wider movement for a fairer world.
The Social Value Matters 2020 conference was a truly immersive event. The organisers took the opportunity of moving the event online to create a 24-hour programme so there was something for everyone, in every time zone, at every possible hour of the day.
The result was a somewhat overwhelming amount of content but also a tremendous sense of being part of an international community looking for ways to measure things that really matter from environmental impact to worker’s rights to social inclusion. And importantly looking for ways to make sure these things are not only valued but drive decision-making as well.
What was most interesting and encouraging for me was hearing the way that diverse agendas seem to be converging.
Philanthropic organisations are more interested in systems change – understanding the underlying dynamics which keep the problems they are trying to address in place. Corporations are going beyond the traditional domain of corporate social responsibility to engage with wider issues such as inequality.
Governments are providing incentives to business owners to transfer ownership to their employees. Third sector organisations are using the language and practices of the market to express their achievements in terms that are engaging to governments and investors. It seems that it is becoming easier, at least for some, to talk across sectoral boundaries.
The wider vision that underpinned many of the contributions was the idea that if companies can be required to report on their environmental and social impact and demonstrate ethical governance (the ‘ESG’ agenda) then capitalism can start to serve the many and not just the few.
It seems that a growing number of investors want this and that many of the challenges are now technical – finding common metrics and benchmarks to allow comparability. Jeremy Nicolls, one of the founders of Social Value International, urged everyone to be pragmatic and make it happen rather than spend time in pursuit of an impossible perfection. There was a real sense of the possibility of change, and of the urgency too.
It all seemed a far cry from our Triangle world of supporting better conversations, enabling personal change and giving managers tools for service learning and development. However, it was good to put our mission of helping service providers transform lives into a wider global context. Triangle’s vision is a society in which everyone is able to thrive. Every contributor at the event was, in one way or another, addressing that cause. I hope that we can all find our place in the bigger picture so that we can play as full a part as possible in achieving this vision.
Triangle is the social enterprise behind the Outcomes Star™. Triangle exists to help service providers transform lives by creating engaging tools and promoting enabling approaches. Through the Outcomes Star, they work with services to promote and measure individual change and to enable learning at an individual, service, organisation and sector-wide levels. The Outcomes Star™ is an evidence-based management tool for both supporting and measuring change. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.