Last night, Karyn Williams was Highly Commended in the Social Value Champion category at the Social Value Awards 2022. Stride Treglown was also Highly Commended for Private Sector Leadership, an accolade given to organisations that are leading the way in embedding social value into their business.
As a collective of over 300 designers working across nine UK studios, we recognise that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact through the buildings and places we create.
For years, we’ve placed long-term human and environmental interests at the heart of our decision-making – from transitioning to employee ownership and certifying as a B Corp to becoming carbon neutral. Social value has always been naturally embedded at every level of the business and intrinsic to our culture.
However, in 2020, we set about formalising how we achieve Social Value to generate even better and more meaningful outcomes. With her keen interest in social, environmental, and economic issues, Senior Associate Technologist Karyn Williams, now our Head of Social Value, led the development of our new strategy.
“It’s hard to overstate the contribution that Karyn has made in the Social Value space. Across a company as large as ours, the cumulative beneficial effect through enhancing the social value of thousands of projects is tremendous.”
Pierre Wassenaar, Chair
Going above and beyond
Within Stride Treglown, Karyn set up the Social Value Task Group which is made up of representatives from our nine regional studios. A technician by training, Karyn has a focus on ‘getting things done’ and has inspired the group to deliver concrete outputs.
Their first achievement was the creation of a Social Value Policy. It’s an open and transparent account of our journey so far, our newly formalised approach, and growing commitment to deliver future improvements.
Next came Karyn’s ‘A Pocket guide to social value’ and ‘RIBA Toolkit Design Guidance’. Both are detailed guidance documents which outline a framework for social value and offer practical knowledge and tools for generating it through fee-paying and pro bono work. The guidance was described as “an amazing piece” by the Social Value Portal.
Her tenacity in driving thorough measurement and verification of social value data is extraordinary. In support of our B Corp Impact Assessment, Karyn has begun an extensive piece of work to improve our internal data measurement software. This will result in a database capable of accurately reporting on our social value activities at a regional and national level.
She is currently creating an ESG charter, which ties in with our B Corp aspirations and ESG good practice, and developing a ‘charity & voluntary go / no go’ assessment process. She is also working with several collaborators to develop a supply chain directive on ethical ways of working.
Working collaboratively and inspiring others
Karyn has a passion for transparency and knowledge-sharing across the wider built environment industry. As well as freely sharing her guidance documents, she regularly speaks at seminars, sits on panels and writes articles to promote best practice working methods across the construction industry.
Several consultants and local authorities have commented on how valuable Karyn’s guidance has been. She is held in such high esteem that Cardiff Council have approached her for support in developing their own Social Value strategy, and now meets with them monthly.
“Thanks, and congratulations, go to Karyn Williams for leading us on our social value journey – we couldn’t have done it without you.”
John Wright, Director for ESG
If you’d like to find out more about our journey, head over to our Social Value page. Or be inspired by our world of Initiatives.
Congratulations to this year’s Social Value Champion, Tim Neobard of WSP, and to Private Sector Leadership winners GreenZone Cleaning.