Construction is Not All About Price Anymore


Social Value. A subject often spoken about, sometimes understood, rarely actioned.

There are many great companies that want to drive this forward. But, for many execs that don’t work with tier one firms, the term is just a fleeting thought. Another headache to worry about!

For anyone that doesn’t know, social value in its simplest form is; Efforts made by a business or organisation to deliver outcomes that benefit local communities.

Elephant Park, East London. (image courtesy of Cilantro)

We speak regularly with Danny Meaden, Social Value Manager at Lendlease, the global construction giant. Danny spends most of his time at Elephant Park, Elephant & Castle, south-east London. A massive £2.7bn project.

“We aim to employ 30% of the project’s workforce from local communities. I collaborate with Southwark Council. They help us drive new talent from the local community. On top of this, they give us insights into local businesses that may benefit from our Elephant Park project.

For example, we have moved local food trucks and cafes into our state-of-the-art retail facilities. And we work with them to drive innovation & move their businesses forward” says Meaden.

Employing from the local community greatly assists the current labour crisis in the industry. Meaden & others from the Lendlease team work with ex-offenders, and it works well. “We bring them in on a pre-apprenticeship programme. This is a 6-week programme that allows them to get a feel for the industry. And this has been a great success. ”

Many struggle to see what it is like working in the industry and so often look for employment in other places – places where it is easier to envision what you’re going to do. The apprenticeship scheme works incredibly well becuase it brings the intangibile parts of the work to life. A secondary benefit of the social value work that Lendlease is doing.

For subcontractors, driving social value is going to be a major part of their future growth. Lendlease and other big players are asking for social value statistics as part of their tendering process. Without sufficient statistics, many subcontractors will be prohibited from winning a contract. It’s not just about who’s the cheapest any more folks!

So, different times ahead for urban development. It’s fair to say “business is truly becoming a force for good”.