In March, the British Standards Institution (BSI) launched the draft version of BS 8950 – Guide to enhancing social value’.

The Guide focuses on the role of organisations in understanding, preserving and enhancing social value. It also looks to help inform all those whose decisions affect social value, to make better decisions, setting a general approach to the use of data to identify opportunities to measure and enhance social value whilst highlighting linkages with a variety of related approaches. 

The Guide was made open to the public for comment until the beginning of April and IEMA submitted its comments on the draft following engagement with members and an external network with expertise in the field.

IEMA found that on the question of scope the Guide underplayed the role of the private sector in contributing to the enhancement of social value, noting that it is a key player in the design and delivery of social value and in best practice improvements.

Several terms such as organisational culture and social return on investment were found to be missing from the definitions section and called to be inserted, along with a refinement of the definition of social value which did not explain what the short and long term include. IEMA called for the definition to be changed to include one which incorporates the importance of change, such as Social Value UK’s definition. In addition to this, several members aligned with IEMA’s position calling for examples to be included in an appendix as to how this works for different types of organisations and or products / projects which would be helpful as it would provide more context to key sections.

The Guide also introduced a section on principles, which covered the processes of determining social value, accounting for social value and the analysis and use of social value information. Commenting on this section, IEMA found that the principles should showcase against what factors the existing state (prior to positive or negative social value impact) is measured against. IEMA further highlighted that social outcomes should be clearly set out up front by any organisation as part of the planning stage (along with a Theory of Change plan), before commencing with any social value activity. Finally, looking at the Framework section of the Guide, IEMA emphasised the importance of materiality as a considering factor, calling for it to appear at the start of the section under assessment in 6.1

The final version of the BSI Guide will be made available upon publication in October 2020.

In the meantime, a draft version of the BS 8950 – Guide to enhancing social value is available here and a copy of the full IEMA comments are available here.

Should members wish to learn more about this engagement then please look out for upcoming webinars as part of our series on Impact of Social Value via the IEMA events webpage, or by contacting Marc Jourdan, IEMA Policy & Engagement lead at m.jourdan@iema.net.


About the Author

Marc Jourdan is a Policy & Engagement Lead for IEMA. He leads IEMA’s work on the circular economy and social sustainability issues. He has an LLM in Environmental Law and over 9 years’ experience specialising in sustainability issues. Marc combines his legal skills with the commercial acumen he developed as a corporate lawyer to support members in both the private and the public sector on sustainability matters.