It’s about everyone winning

Over the last year the Plan A team has seen a significant increase in social sustainability being a scored attribute in tender documents. Bidders must consider how their operations will benefit the wider community and provide long-term positive outcomes. 

This is a good thing! We are being encouraged to give back and leave a lasting legacy from our work that goes beyond the services we provide or the projects we deliver. It’s about developing people and growing communities – to provide opportunities for employment and skills and/or training that are healthy and safety focused, which in turn leads to more work and benefits for those communities.

Being required to make a positive social impact is nothing new. Unfortunately, New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world where, in countries like Australia and South Africa, social sustainability is well entrenched into businesses – and it’s celebrated.

If you’ve not yet given it any thought, now is the time. Putting a plan in place is surprisingly simple, and when socially sustainable impacts and outcomes become marked attributes in tender documents, you’ll be ready to jump on board.

Planning for your Social Impact Plan

A Social Impact Plan must be a living document detailing your long-term strategy for delivering enduring social impact initiatives. It defines your course of action, usually spanning three to five years, and how you plan to measure progress.

Start by establishing a working group with those of your team who have the time and mandate to develop and drive your plan. Communicate this process to staff across your business and invite them to share their ideas. It can be an excellent team building exercise.

Developing your plan

In this phase, the working group must identify the social issues that impact your business at a community and project level. These could include, for example, lack of workforce diversity, skills shortages, unemployment or alcohol and other drug problems.

Identify how these issues threaten your business and try to understand the root causes (e.g. safety, cost). Then look for opportunities to address each issue. This will require a fair bit of research to understand the extent of the issue and what options are available to you.

Some ideas may be simply too expensive or cumbersome to implement, so make sure you assess each one thoroughly in terms of cost and practicality.

Once you agree on the initiatives and associated scope of work for each issue, assign an owner and set specific deliverables/targets and clear timelines. Capture this in a document that includes a reporting structure to measure progress.

At a higher level, define your overarching objectives and share the plan with your entire business.

Put your plan into action

From the day the plan is approved, start working on it and celebrate every milestone, from a school visit to graduating apprentices. Schedule reporting deadlines and regular meetings, including a quarterly session, to assess how each initiative is progressing – it is an iterative process so a refocus may be necessary.

Within three months, your business will have a robust plan in place to provide as part of your response to social impact attributes. But more than that – you’ll also be a socially sustainable business – focused not just on your people, but also on the people impacted by your work. And what could be better than that?

For more information, email info@plana.co.nz or call 0800 752 622.