Recently, Supply Change and Wates hosted a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event for social enterprises who can deliver services to Wates projects in Barking & Dagenham and Havering. The event facilitated 44 pitching slots for social enterprises to engage with Wates and other buyers like them. We asked Michelle McSorley, Community Investment Manager for Wates Residential, about why they are increasing their engagement with social enterprises and where events like this fit into their strategy.
Wates Residential is delivering a strategy to cultivate a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive society and build a positive legacy. This involves working with social enterprises and ‘Meet the Buyer’ events allow us to identify more suppliers to work with and help them grow by introducing them to other buyers like us. We work with social enterprises because they generate social value through their business model, and support people furthest from the workforce.
This allows us to have greater impact in the local areas where we work, like in the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Havering, where we have long-term projects with our local authority partners, which is why this particular event focused on East London.
Wates are a company who see their role in communities as more than just putting up buildings, as evidenced by a recent project in Havering;
To us, construction is more than just building, it’s also a chance for us to positively impact the communities where we operate and to help them thrive. Communities are at the heart of all our projects and we aim to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing where we operate.
An example of this is the ‘12 Estates’ Joint Venture with Havering Council that has so far delivered £28m of social value investment. 241 people have benefited from employment and training initiatives and 1,859 students have been supported by education activities and programmes.
Social enterprise champions at Wates Su Pickerill and of course Michelle herself, see the value not just for the communities they work in but also to Wates’ own teams;
I am motivated by knowing that the way we choose to do business benefits society and that the results of our actions are clearly measurable. Being in it for the long-term with our partners means that we can make a real difference. By working with social enterprises I know that people that face barriers to enter the workforce are being supported. For example, we directly tap into a more diverse talent pool of people by working in partnership with organisations to employ prison leavers too, like Jamal who works on our Shuttleworth Road site in Wandsworth.
As Michelle points out, the best evidence of authenticity in Wates’ intentions lie in goals they have set across the group;
Wates Group has a target to spend £45m with social enterprises by 2025. By working with organisations such as Supply Change we will be able to not only identify the right organisations to work with but also help the sector grow. Wates also has targets to inspire and educate young people and challenge inequality. These goals will help us realise our ambition to be the most sustainable, trusted and progressive business in the sector and by leading by example we hope other businesses will follow.
Finally we asked Michelle, what is particularly exciting about the outcomes of this event;
Over fifty social enterprises and nine buyers attended the ‘Meet the Buyer’ event. In the weeks to come it will be exciting to see the connections that have been made to directly benefit the local communities in and around the areas where we work like at Gascoigne West Phase 1 in Barking and in Havering.
We are proud to know that following this event, profits will be invested back into these communities.
If your organisation would like to engage with more social enterprise suppliers please contact email@example.com