Social Value Canada in the Time of COVID-19
Some might look back on 2020 as a terrible year to invest in taking Social Value Canada to the next level. Indeed, prospects for convening a coherent dialogue look dim if one looks at the circumstances through the negative lens of COVID-19 impact.
Yet on the other hand, calls for new leadership and economic models are coming from surprisingly mainstream places. Consider the CEO of JPMorgan calling for a fairer economy. Or Mark Carney’s article in The Economist April 16, on how the economy must yield to human values. What stays with me in all of this is the need for precision focus on the ‘how’. It is all fine and well to call for change, but we need to build skills and a range of common approach in order to achieve a functioning economy that works for more people, more effectively.
When I started on my social value journey, I was motivated by the need to express the vale of things that I could see and others could not. In 1996, the only tool in my toolbox was to shake my fists and stamp my feet. A variety of learning experiences contributed to my approach to demonstrating the value of social investment.
One pivotal one was discovering Jed Emerson’s work and his article ‘The Nature of Returns’. It expressed what I had been struggling to articulate, that return on investment to be valued can be social, environmental and financial in nature. This led me to delving into the SROI methodology, as a tool to express the value of change in financial terms. Today, SROI training offered across the So
cial Value International network, and in Canada through SVC, emphasizes the need to truly understand what stakeholders value, in order to ensure actions taken don’t achieve less impact than intended, or worse – cause harm.
Today, I can articulate the value (or lack thereof) achieved through investment in community & society with confidence, including my case in figures, metrics, graphs and statistics. It is time to invest in developing the skills, tools and frameworks, to build that better economy we so desire.
Through upcoming courses, webinars and links to international activity, Social Value Canada involvement will bring a large group of people forward, skilled to act differently. A rising tide lifts all boats. We must focus on the ‘how’ in order to effectively deliver on the strong call for a better economy for all. #SocialValueMatters
What COVID-19 Shows About Health and the Economy
For the first time in 30 years, the Human Development Index is on course for a sharp decline. At the same time, the world has seen the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression.
These two trends are not a coincidence, with the interconnectivity between well-being and the economy being made abundantly clear. Consumption stimulations alone are not enough to overcome underlying issues. These patterns are not easy to dismiss, now that they have started taking root within the public consciousness. Even with several provinces easing restrictions,
a recent poll by EKOS shows that Canadians expect COVID-19 to have lasting consequences – mainly for the better. Almost three quarters of respondents anticipate broad transformations to society after the crisis, with the vast majority believing that Canada will become more focused on social outcomes, health, and well-being overall.
We can see this reflected globally, with a new report on the pandemic by the United Nations Development Programme highlighting the value of multidimensional approaches. Economic policies that consider the economy alone are ill-suited for facing this crisis, the UNDP says, and policies should instead
be guided by an objective of enhancing human capabilities. The report connects the dots between access to the internet, balanced lifestyles, and continuous income with a successful health recovery, and therefore, a successful economic one. This kind of thinking supports the logic of social value, as it upholds the value of products that improve human development. It is important that the social value movement takes this approach beyond COVID-19, both to ensure successful, equitable recovery as well as build resistance to future systemic challenges.
Finally, as the UNDP concludes, this crisis reminds us of the power of collective action. Many stakeholders and areas of life need to be considered, because they are dynamically interconnected. Fortunately, there are signs of a willingness to change behaviour and take responsibility, with high global compliance with social distancing protocols. The value of considering social impacts on the economy has been revealed, both in Canada and internationally, and people are finding it compelling.
Dan Kershaw Explores Real Estate as an Untapped Resource for Social Change at #SVM2020
Furniture is a luxury that many families struggle to afford, especially as groceries, transportation, and schooling are often forced to take priority. Yet Dan believes that a house is not a home without it, and that everyone deserves a living space in which they feel welcome.
Furniture Bank has found that providing furniture improves health and financial stability, decreases the likelihood of re-experiencing displacement, and helps empower individuals to be more active members of their neighbourhoods.
The organization also pursues other social and environmental agendas by providing meaningful opportunities to people facing employment barriers and diverting furniture that would otherwise be destined for landfills. Additionally, Dan is committed to promoting an understanding of social impact, environmental, and poverty issues through Furniture Bank’s Learning Centre. Over the past five years, they have shared their knowledge with over 30 communities interested in developing their own furniture programs across North America.
Dan did not initially expect to lead a social enterprise. His career has spanned over two decades and across a variety of industries, all the while following a passion for “business for good.” He continues to inspire other entrepreneurs through lectures at colleges and universities on social enterprise and its critical role in a healthy charity.
Awerangi Tamihere Structures Family Care Around the Principles of Wellbeing #SVM2020
Another featured speaker at this year’s Social Value Matters ‘20: People, Planet & Power conference is Awerangi Tamihere, Chief Operating Officer of the Whãnau Ora Commissioning Agency in New Zealand. Awerangi has spent the last three decades helping Mãori communities through various policies and services. She has found that measuring social returns is a valuable vehicle for considering whãnau, or the “family unit” as well as assessing lasting change over time.
Awerangi promotes an integrated and collaborative model of care, enabling recipients to shape what the service looks like and taking a diversity of stakeholders into account. She is at the forefront of developing new approaches with Te Whānau o Waipareira, where research is driven by the principles of Kaupapa Māori and translated into impact. Current projects include a survey on the issues that Māori youth face, an inquiry into abuse by New Zealand’s Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children, and research showing that four dollars of social value are created for every one invested into Te Whānau o Waipareira’s parenting course. The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency is a recent, ongoing initiative, having begun operations in 2014 but quickly growing to become the largest of its kind in Aotearoa – the traditional name for New Zealand – and one of few organizations in the world championing SROI in government family service strategies.
Through the Commissioning Agency, Awerangi sponsors the provision of wellbeing across many issue areas and at several different levels. Programmes include Kaiārahi, or ‘Navigators’, acting as frontline caseworkers, Whānau Direct providing financial aid for achieving particular goals, the Innovation Fund supporting new approaches, and Collective Impact bringing together over 80 organizations to address complex, multidimensional issues affecting whānau. The Auckland-based Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki, a Whānau Ora collective, exemplifies collaboration by bringing together partners from different backgrounds to practice holistic solutions. Indicators for success are based on measuring social outcomes for children, families, and the community at large.
Awerangi’s experiences extend across the central government, regional crown entities, the private sector, and working with her own Iwi. She is also committed to realizing Māori economic development goals as a member of the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board (MEDAB).
The SVC Team is Growing – Welcome Kaz Flinn
It’s a busy time for us at Social Value Canada: the fourth annual Social Value International conference is happening virtually this year in Toronto, and tickets go on sale next week. Alongside the conference, our team is growing, and we’re thrilled to announce Kaz Flinn, a leader in the Canadian corporate social responsibility space, to the team as an advisor to Social Value Canada.
Kaz Flinn is always looking to include social impact into the conversation. She is passionate about changing the way society accounts for value, particularly as the world starts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. She feels that collectively, business and society must work together to ensure a sustainable and equitable future.
Prior to joining Social Value Canada, Kaz served as the first-ever Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank for nine years. She integrated social concerns with operations across the governance, community, employment, customer, and environmental sectors, earning the Clean Tech award in 2013 for her leadership in environmental sustainability. She also extended the Bank’s philanthropic program across 55 countries, with a focus on children’s well-being, microfinance, financial literacy and building awareness and education of HIV AIDS.
After leaving Scotiabank, Kaz spent 3 years as the Chair of the Ontario Justice of the Peace Appointment Advisory Committee, which manages the process of the appointments of Justices of the Peace. She travelled across Ontario ensuring a vast group of stakeholders were part of the decision-making process.
Kaz is also a founding member of the Canadian Network of the UN Global Compact and was on the Board of Directors of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) for six years. She continues as the Chair of the Education Council for the Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability Certificate program at the University of St Mike’s College in Toronto, where she also is a lecturer on Corporate Responsibility Governance.
“I am thrilled to be part of the SVC team and will work with them to grow the Canadian network. This network is taking a lead role in changing the way our society accounts for value and I am so glad to be right in the mix of this exciting time.”
Join Us For Social Value Matters 2020!
Social Value International and Social Value Canada are co-hosting the biggest social value conference of the year. Following last year’s physical event in Taipei, this time “Social Value Matters: People, Planet & Power” will be convened from Toronto and promises to bring the world together to discuss the most important issues of our time. Stay tuned for more information coming soon on our conference website.
Social Value 101! A Great Tool For Sharing
Ever had trouble explaining social value? This video on Social Value Canada’s website will help to start the conversation.