Value by Design: Architect Firm AWW Shares its Journey to Silver

Image © Copyright AWW 2023

SVQM SilverFor AWW, progressing quickly from Bronze to Silver accreditation has led to greater fulfilment for the business and its employees. Social Value Business – home of the Quality Mark – has been with them at every step.

In September 2023, AWW became the UK’s first architectural practice to achieve Social Value Quality Mark Silver accreditation. We asked the team to share more about their journey.

What motivated you to seek accreditation?

As an employee-owned business, we strive to be ethical, promoting responsible leadership and innovation. We are committed to making an impact; placing people at the heart of what we do to enhance quality of life and create sustainable and resilient communities.

What was your starting point?

Working with Social Value Business (SVB) enabled us to define and clarify the purpose and direction we wanted to take in our social value journey. Under their team’s guidance, we grew in confidence and knowledge. The Bronze Award was a first step on our path. Since those early days we have fulfilled our initial pledges. In seeking our Silver accreditation, we have challenged ourselves to do more, to go bigger and to be better.

How did the Silver award process feel different to Bronze?

It required us to hold ourselves more accountable and to push ourselves to achieve more, recognising our strengths and harnessing them. The level of success we have had in achieving the pledges and Key Value Indicators (KVIs) we originally set ourselves has given us confidence. It demonstrates to us that we know our business.

What did you find challenging?

Embedding social value as an integral part of the project process and maximising the value of stakeholder feedback continues to be a challenge. Measuring the design impact has been, and still is, one of our biggest challenges in recording and more specifically monetarising our social impact. We continue to work with Social Value Business on this and embrace the opportunities to learn and grow.

How has Social Value Business supported you?

SVB have been there to guide us on our journey, offering advice and support whenever we’ve needed it. They’ve showed us how we can build a robust plan, pledges that are positively impactive and make us a better business and KVIs that make us accountable. After each interaction with SVB we felt equipped to take on the next challenge. We want to create a healthy and positive environment for our employees and design places and communities in which people can thrive. We now have more clarity and focus on how we want to live as a social value business, creating a positive legacy for future generations.

What does Silver accreditation mean to AWW?

Social Value Quality Mark Silver accreditation has been such a rewarding journey for us, assisting us in creating an accountable ESG framework for continual improvement. AWW is committed to helping unlock the huge potential for transition in the construction industry to becoming equitable and regenerative.

Since making a commitment to social value, we have become more fulfilled as a business and individuals; it allows us to walk our talk; to give back and to positively impact lives and communities.