Simple steps to help your organisation achieve more social value impact
06th October 2023
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10 million people lack the digital skills needed for everyday life in the UK.
And the impact of this is only worsening.
82% of jobs in the UK now require digital skills, according to the Digital Poverty Alliance.
Of course, this issue goes beyond the workplace. A lack of digital skills can affect everything from booking hospital or GP appointments to staying in touch with friends and family.
Taking steps to close this digital divide is undoubtedly important, both to empower employees and keep communities connected.
Through Censuswide, we recently surveyed over 1,200 UK workers to understand attitudes and barriers around ESG progress in 2023.
Attitudes towards social impact are positive. 73% of respondents noted a higher priority for social action than a year ago, reflecting a heightened focus on these issues.
But with this year calling for a balancing act – where organisations are juggling their environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments with the need to operate as efficiently as possible – how can you make a meaningful difference?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways organisations can achieve this.
Tackling the digital divide
Technology can be an empowering tool for everyone across the UK. It can transform the way people interact with essential public services. It can help people find a job or keep in contact with their loved ones.
However, not having access to that tech, or the skills to use it, can have a detrimental impact.
A lack of digital skills contributes to stress and anxiety, not to mention missing out on opportunity and equality. For older people in particular, being digitally included can help boost wellbeing and contribute to a sense of community, according to Age UK.
The benefits of digital inclusion can also be felt in the workplace, where digital skills are becoming increasingly more crucial to help employees keep up with new technologies and tools.
And there are longer-term benefits for a more digitally skilled workforce too. Getting technology into the hands of digitally excluded children means they will be more natively skilled at the tools they will use every day, improving the earnings potential of these young people and stopping them from falling further behind. An inclusive, digitally able future workforce benefits us all: Good Things Foundation estimates for every £1 invested in digital skills training, £9.48 is gained throughout the economy.
For the public sector, a lack of digital skills means losing out on untapped efficiencies – those small wins which add up to big gains, like knowing how to use Microsoft Office to its full potential.
And that doesn’t just jeopardise ESG goals, it holds your organisation back from helping the communities that need your services.
How you can create social value through partnerships
Social value has become an increasingly important criteria in the tender process. Councils are building social value frameworks into their structures to ensure organisations are prioritising partnerships that provide benefits to their communities.
80% of new tenders over £500,000 in West Sussex will have social value criteria included within their evaluation by 2025.
“If you're not delivering social value, it could make or break whether the government will give you the contract or not.”
Lindsay Harling, Head of Commissioning and Procurement at FedCap
But what does social value look like in action?
We worked with professional services company Capita to help redistribute smartphones from its employees to digitally excluded people around the UK.
To do this, we partnered with environmental charity Hubbub’s Community Calling campaign to ensure these devices could be data-wiped, cleaned and fitted with data from Virgin Media O2 and Good Things Foundation’s national databank.
Together we diverted harmful electronic waste from landfill while giving thousands of people access to the internet.
“Virgin Media O2 Business really came through to help us set up an ongoing programme with Hubbub that allows us to redistribute our employees’ old smartphones and do our bit to help people in the community. The arrangement worked incredibly well and we’ve seen employees donate personal equipment to further support the cause.”
Mike Rowland, Technology Partnership Manager, Capita
This kind of social value partnership amplifies the benefits for everyone – our expertise coupled with Hubbub’s logistical capabilities meant we could work with Capita to find a solution that had a real impact for communities in need.
How you can get involved
Tech donation schemes are a perfect example of how your organisation can make meaningful progress towards your ESG goals. And they can be simple to start and get involved with.
And positively, 88% of our respondents expressed motivation to expedite ESG advancements in 2023. A further 86% said they were likely to consider contributing to improving digital inclusion across the UK.
Our new tech donation programme allows large enterprise and public sector organisations to give smartphones and mobile data to digitally excluded children and over-65s. We donate the devices on your behalf, empowering you to make progress without the costs of building a programme by yourself.
That’s the key benefit to this partnership and others like it – making a meaningful difference whilst ensuring you can still focus on your own success too.
Want to know more about Virgin Media O2 Business’ tech donation programme?
Speak to one of our experts about how you can get involved.