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Constructionline News

23 September 2013

Constructing Society – as well as infrastructure

By Kay Allen OBE, Founding Director of Trading for Good

Image of Kay Allen Obe

This week's guest article is from Kay Allen OBE, the founding Director of Trading for Good – a fellow Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) backed initiative. The service allows SMEs to shout about the good they do supporting their community and local economy.

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In 2011 the Gross Value Added of the construction industry in the UK was £89.5 billion, 6.7% of total GVA. There were 1.99 million workforce jobs in the UK construction industry in March 2013, 6.2% of all workforce jobs.

These are BIG numbers. The value of the construction industry to our economy is obvious and nearly always used to temperature check the heartbeat of economic growth.

However, have you ever stopped to consider the Social Value created by the construction industry? And have you ever thought about the impact that the many small businesses have on society.

Lest we forget - SMEs account for 99% of all enterprise activity in the UK. Many of these operate in the construction industries supply chain.

Imagine the potential impact on society…

Imagine if we could say the above paragraph differently:

Imagine: In 2011 the Gross Social Value Added of the construction industry in the UK was 100,000 work experiences, 100,000 apprenticeships, £10 million donated to charity, 50% reduction in landfill and over 100,000 of pro bono work.

The Social Value added to communities by smaller businesses operating in the construction industry should be the real temperate check on the heart and soul of societies growth.

Trading for Good is a new digital platform for smaller businesses that has been imagining just that.

We wanted to be able to quantify and promote the Social Value of Britain’s amazing smaller businesses and shout about the impact they have on society over and above the day job of doing business.

Trading for Good is an idea that originally came from Number 10 and has the support of Department for Business Innovation and Skills and The Cabinet Office. Sponsorship has been secured from Santander and NESTA and Fujitsu and we have some great partners, chaired by Philip Green, The Prime Minster's Advisor on Corporate Responsibility.

Using a simple online registration process Trading for Good can capture data on what small businesses are doing in the areas of helping young people, the environment, local giving and local employment.

The great thing about Trading for Good is that it is free for all small businesses to join. and in return SMEs get an online profile that promotes all the great things that are going on is this hidden social economy.

The registration process captures data on 40 issues in an easy to complete questionnaire. The member can then add to their profile in a simple blog format easily sharing what they do over and above running their business.

But there is a business imperative as well…

In many tender processes questions are asked about what you are doing in CSR and Equality etc. Trading for Good members can hit the print button and print off their Trading for Good profile which evidences everything they are doing. In the public sector the Social Value Act is demanding attention is turned to creating social impact through procurement.

And we hope to inspire even more great social action.

Constructionline has 22,000 members, imagine if each of these offered a work placement to a young person who has never had a positive experience of the world of work or held a fundraising event that each generated £100 for local good causes. Imagine the powerful collective impact this would have on society.

Without a vibrant construction industry, society loses so much more than just the GVA. We lose apprenticeships, training opportunities, charitable giving and pro bono support.

Join in with Trading for Good and help us to demonstrate the social value of Britain’s small businesses.

Follow Trading For Good on Twitter @TradingforGood

Like Trading For Good on Facebook

Follow Trading For Good on LinkedIn

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Kay Allen OBE, Trading for good