Our social value strategy | Wates

Social value is the long-term, sustainable improvement for society that can be gained by promoting positive social, economic and environmental impact.

It is sometimes described as the ‘broader value’  created for society by businesses considering a  range of impacts its decisions can influence, not solely financial implications. Our approach is driven by our five-year social value strategy, Creating Opportunities. This is complemented by our long-term environmental strategy, Changing our Habits.

Creating Opportunities includes the following commitments and targets for 2025:

Our social value strategy

Our social value strategy to 2025 focuses on the three strategic themes:

  • Challenging inequality
  • Inspiring and educating young people about careers in the built environment
  • Supporting and scaling the social enterprise sector

Our partnerships

A legacy of social value

The Wates Group’s Guiding Framework sets out our ambitions to be the most sustainable, trusted and progressive business in our sector, underpinning the Wates Family’s  belief that business, done well, can be a force for good.

Social Value  has always been at the heart of what we do. The culture of looking after our people and giving back to society was established from the company’s foundations in 1897  and remains as true today with the  fourth generation of the Wates family owners. The motivation to create a positive legacy in the communities where we live and work is shared by leadership and employees alike, with  colleagues engaged in initiatives from site visits and trading with social enterprises to mentoring and volunteering.

As a family-owned business, Wates Group –  alongside the Family’s charitable trust, the Wates Family Enterprise Trust – has long been synonymous with delivering social value, being twice awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise for sustainable development, as well as being named Organisation of the Year by the Social Mobility Awards. Wates is one of the founding members of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, established in 2016 by Social Enterprise UK and the Cabinet Office with the aim of collectively spending £1billion with social enterprises through procurement.

Our Guiding Framework

Wates Group’s Guiding Framework clearly sets out our goals to be a sustainable, trusted, and progressive business and reiterates the values and behaviours that are central to our culture.

Delivering social value is an intrinsic component for creating the places, communities and businesses of tomorrow.


Diversity and inclusion

We believe that a diverse workforce brings a breadth of lived experience; strengthens decision making, and builds a culture in which everyone feels their contribution is valued.

The construction sector has not been successful in attracting people from a wide talent pool and we have implemented several measures to encourage a more diverse future workforce.

#WatesTogether is an important step towards our Goals of becoming more progressive and sustainable and epitomises our effort to behave in a way that’s fair to everyone. It is a long-term blueprint for creating a business where everyone is welcomed, included and connected. It includes commitments to dramatically improve the gender balance of our workforce at all levels, overhauling our parental leave and flexible working policies and reducing our gender pay gap.

Diversity and inclusion at Wates

Employment - challenging inequality

Employment is key to creating a route out of poverty for individuals and their families and so is good for society.1 UK Government 

Through providing access to work, we are well placed to reduce the inequalities and barriers to work faced by many in our society. Encouraging our projects to provide employment for those in groups  furthest from the workforce is one way that we can challenge inequality. These groups include care leavers, ex-offenders, ex-service personnel, the unemployed, people with disabilities and those with experience of homelessness.


Championing Living Wage

Championing the real Living Wage is a another way we challenge inequality.

Advocated by the Living Wage Foundation, the real Living Wage is a voluntary and independently set pay rate the reflects the true cost of living. However, it is not yet routinely paid across the construction sector. Low pay risks trapping people in working poverty, creating a social cost through a reliance on top up benefits.

In 2019, Wates FM became the Group’s first accredited Recognised Service Provider (RSP) working with the Living Wage Foundation. In November 2020 Wates Residential became an accredited RSP and Wates Developments is now a certified Living Wage Employer.


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