Six months ago LV= - a firm that spends around £1billion across its supplier chain - became the latest company to join Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge.
Why did we do it? Well, as one of the UK’s leading mutuals, helping our customers, members and the wider society has always been something that has been important to us.
We were founded 175 years ago so that the ordinary working people of Liverpool could bury their dead with dignity.
Our commitment to helping society is as true today as it was then, which is why we wanted to be part of the BSCC.
In getting involved, we’ve basically made a commitment to increase access to our supply chain for social enterprises and help Social Enterprise UK meet its target of achieving £1billion of corporate procurement spend with social enterprises by 2020.
Each year, LV= spends around £1billion across its entire supplier chain, so if we can look to spend just some of that with social enterprises who are trying to make a difference and help others, then we absolutely should.
As far as we’re concerned, it’s the right thing to do.
Since joining the BSCC, it’s been incredible to see the impact it’s had on our people.
This initiative has created a real buzz, not only in our procurement team but also in the wider business, because our colleagues recognise that we’re trying to make a difference and they are motivated by the good that their work can achieve.
While it’s still early days, we’re really happy with the progress we’ve made in helping social enterprises.
A few months ago, we switched our office supplies contract to WildHearts which, through its foundation, provides micro loans to people in developing countries.
Typically, those loans go to women, who generally either establish a business or invest in an existing one, the profits from which are then used to educate their children.
In the space of just a few months, the LV= account has enabled Wildhearts to create 287 loans, and it means a lot to us to know that these have helped transform the lives of others.
As well as Wildhearts, we’re also in the process of changing the supplier of the soap in our washrooms to products from Soap Co, a UK social enterprise that employs people with visual impairments.
The parent company, CLARITY Employment for Blind People, is a registered charity and the UK’s oldest surviving social enterprise, as it’s been employing, training and supporting people with disabilities since 1854.
We completely recognise that we have a lot more to do but at the same time we’ve made a good start and we’re excited about the future.
We can now see how making a small change in the way you conduct your business can make such a huge difference elsewhere in the world and we look forward to working with many more social enterprises.