Shelby Bradley, Head of People and Values, looks at our five key values and how they have changed the way we operate as a social investor.
Many organisations have a guiding set of values that help guide their mission. The hard part is embedding them into what you do and how you do it.
We first developed a set of values back in 2011 but these weren’t ingrained in our day to day work as much as they could have been.
Then in March 2017 something exciting happened.
After lengthy discussions involving all colleagues we unveiled our five key values and thus embarked on a brave new journey of thinking and working.
But implementing fundamental change is no easy task – especially with the continuing pressures of day to day demands.
So what do these nice-sounding promises actually mean in practice? And what have we changed so far?
Putting people first
Whether you were with us from the beginning with the Adventure Capital Fund or you’ve just signed up to our newsletter, we’ve pledged that charities and social enterprises, will be the focus of all that we do.
We’ve formed a customer panel from charities and social enterprises to get feedback and improve what we do. Having hosted our first meeting in Bristol in November where we established how the panel will operate, we’re now looking forward to working with them.
We have also embedded our values into how we invest in our colleagues. A few examples include improving our diversity monitoring, changing our appraisal approach and using our values to help make recruitment decisions.
Over the last fifteen years we’ve provided over £230m in grants and £175m in loans to 2,800 organisations but have we learnt enough about the impact of our work in that time?
We’ve now made the strategic choice to increase our investment in research and evaluation to better understand the impact of our work. We’ve started by researching the impact of our investment readiness programmes – including via a series of workshops – and we’ll be releasing a report on our findings in the new year.
We now we can do more by working with others and we’ve been in talks with various partners, some new and some old, to launch exciting new projects.
Already this year we’ve worked closely with all the partners on the Impact Management Programme to transform the way charities examine their own impact and with the Asda Foundation through the First Steps Enterprise Fund. Expect to hear about more collaborative programmes in 2018.
It’s important that all voices are heard and that’s why we’ve given colleagues the opportunity to get more creative in designing programmes.
We recently launched ‘The Challenge’ – an invitation to all colleagues to submit proposals to tackle some of the challenges in the social investment market. This is a new approach for us but one we believe can make the best use of new talent and ideas.
As champions of social enterprise it’s only right for us to include them in our supply chain.
Consultancy, groceries and even who we bank with are just a few of the products and services included in our push to ‘Buy Social’ and we will continue to campaign in this space.
Once a month we also give colleagues the opportunity to nominate another who has ‘lived up’ to our values. From helping a colleague meet a deadline to remembering to water our thirsty plants our ‘Made a Difference’ award recognises positive work.
Impact so far
While our journey has just begun the feedback from our annual colleague survey has been positive.
"Having clear values has helped - it's made the organisation more inclusive."
"There has been a good sense of trying to embed the new values throughout the business."
We’ve already learned the advantage of using the values in our everyday work. When all colleagues subscribe to a common set of values it can create culture in which success can thrive. It’s still early days but we hope this approach will improve what we do, and how we do it.
We want to hear from you on how we are doing with living our values. Get in touch and share your thoughts.