Social enterprises represent the best that business can offer: innovative, commercially focused organisations that give back to society or the natural environment. Businesses that engage with social enterprises are helping to support this growing sector, with its strong social purpose. Amanda Williams, Sustainability Manager at Landmarc Support Services, explains how this is just a natural progression for a company that understands its place in wider society.
At Landmarc, social value is in our DNA. We are a significant rural employer, making a substantial contribution to land management across the UK, and with a central role to play in the economic prosperity of remote and rural locations.
Landmarc manages the UK military training estate on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Our primary aim is to ensure that we deliver a safe and sustainable place for our Armed Forces to train, but due to the Estate’s location in largely rural communities, its effective management is also heavily dependent on a supporting social network.
On the Defence Training Estate, we understand that military outputs demand a local skilled, flexible and adaptable workforce. To support this, we work with our communities to improve access to sustainable incomes, increase skills and diversify supply chains.
Veterans and reservists make up around 25 per cent of our workforce, in recognition of the vital role they play in delivering services to our military customers. We recognise that rural SMEs with local knowledge make excellent partners, and our Community Investment Fund and volunteering programme, Be the Difference, supports initiatives that are important to the communities where we operate.
So it was only natural that Landmarc should also be big proponents of social enterprise from the outset. After all, for every pound we spend with a social enterprise, society benefits. We were recipients of the UK’s first Social Value Award in 2016 (for promoting and mainstreaming the Social Value Act), and one of the founding sponsors of the first Social Value Summit in 2014, working with Social Enterprise UK the following year to produce a white paper based on its findings and calling on Government to strengthen the Social Value Act.
Landmarc was a founding member of X-Forces, a social enterprise that is the leading organisation in the UK for enterprise in the military community, and works with the Career Transition Partnership which provides resettlement services for those leaving the armed forces. We also engage with some exciting social enterprises through our supply chain, such as Wildhearts, AAA Caring Caretaker and SmartGo.
Social value is integral to our Sustainability Strategy, which we aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an early adopter. This enables us to track, monitor and report on our objectives, both internally and through the publication of an externally verified social impact report called The Landmarc Difference, produced in collaboration with Social Enterprise UK and CAN Invest.
By signing up to the Buy Social Corporate Challenge we are working to increase and track spend with social enterprises, enabling us to add more value across the wider aspects of our activities. But our ambition is to go much further than these strong foundations.
We must continue to play a part in improving access to sustainable incomes, increasing skills and access to opportunities in rural communities facing social and economic barriers, and further diversify our supply chains with SMEs, voluntary, community and social enterprises. To me, it’s clear that if businesses adopt strategies with a strong social purpose we can help to build a more sustainable and equitable world.