‘Social impacts’ are the ways in which business has a wider effect on society. They are related to ‘sustainability’ and ‘corporate social responsibility’ and can be economic, environmental or social.
Stockwood Community Benefit Society (SCBS) has been set up to maximise and foster positive social impacts generated by its activities as a landlord of a fully tenanted rural business park and bio-dynamic farm. This initial survey is a significant step toward that goal.
Awareness: Social impact is discussed and measured: 14 of 19 tenants took active part (93% of occupied floorspace). Remainder reviewed via desktop.
Why is Impact A important?
Active engagement and awareness of the issue is paramount. From there, discussion and action can take place. The high level of buy-in to this first survey is significant, reinforced by the warm response it uncovered.
Turnover: Park generates collective turnover in excess of £12m p.a. of which an estimated £8m is spent on staff and local suppliers, including £220k rent supporting the mission of SCBS. £21.6m is recycled locally using LM3.
Why is Impact B important?
Local traders are the lifeblood of a district economy, perhaps especially in rural areas . In a globalised world, local traders have a responsiveness to local needs and a spread of sector risk that differs, from say, a large multi-national employer. In addition, the Local Multiplier (LM3) theory calculates how much money paid to a local supplier is retained and recycled in the local economy for longer than if extracted immediately to international shareholders. On rates of local spending derived from interviews, the £12m is re-spent locally, mainly on staff and some local suppliers, to create £21.6m worth of economic input to the local economy. That said, the Park is connected to the globe and its customers are nationwide and overseas.
Jobs created: Park sustains over 200 jobs. 66% are local, plus 10 traineeships & jobs for those facing barriers to employment.
Why is Impact C important?
To view the Park as a purely rural and parochial venture would be highly misleading. Of an estimated 200+ jobs created and sustained by businesses at Stockwood, around 140 are locally based and the balance are UK-wide with some overseas, plus some seasonal or subcontracted. This means that the ethos of SCBS can travel far beyond the bounds of the Park itself. Local jobs are highly important as they sustain the district economy and, with a spending ethos communicated to staff that local spending is important, more cash is recycled before it is spent outwards, beginning with Farm produce bought at their workplaces. In terms of future job markets, 10 traineeships and jobs provided by 4 tenants for those facing employment barriers directly tackle unemployment and disenfranchisement.
Waste recycling: Around half of the respondents demonstrated recycling over and above the Landlord’s very high standards.
Why is Impact D important?
The issue of waste is one of the best understood. Doing more than is required, even by this Landlord’s standards, demonstrates a robust community on site and good business sense – much of what is recycled is used by other businesses on site, such as packaging, cutting down their intake of these materials, their cost, and increasing cooperation between entities.
Energy & Water: Around a quarter of respondents actively seek lower energy / water usage over and above the Landlord’s aspirations. [Landlord inherited ‘standard’ buildings and plans to upgrade significantly- NB oil heating is currently used]
Why is Impact E important?
At Stockwood, the tenant engagement in this issue is potentially high. Without prompting, respondents were keen to lower their energy bills and be (and be seen by their customers as being) as ‘green’ as possible. Renewable energy and higher standards of insulation in the accommodation was raised and offers some early ‘wins’ in any new initiatives for SCBS.
Charity support: Around half reported supporting a charity
Why is Impact F important?
Charities tackle issues that government and private industry cannot. Their benefits often circulate back to their supporters. Air Ambulance, RSPB and Macmillan Cancer Research were mentioned but local schools were discussed as potential. Developing a corporate culture which responds to charitable need balances staff perspectives and often forms part of employees’ benefits – naming a chosen charity.
Volunteering: A small number volunteer their skills for ‘community causes’ including the Farm and local schools.
Why is Impact G important?
Similarly to above, this also provides team-building opportunities as well as broadening employees’ sense of self-worth, and productivity. It adds value to charitable initiatives which benefit greatly from no-strings-attached pro bono work or general donated skills and time.
New initiatives: All respondents stated willingness to participate in new sustainability initiatives.
Why is Impact H important?
This enthusiasm is at present unformed into specific plans in most cases. But there is a proof of the landlord’s trustworthiness and track record in that all tenants would gladly listen to their leadership on the matter. Some expressed a desire to be consulted and involved. This last point is important to take heed of, but overall the passion on site for change seems ripe for development and forward motion. This feedback loop however must be maintained.