The circular economy offers an alternative and more sustainable approach. ; The circular economy offers an alternative and more sustainable approach. ;

Social value and equity

Enhancing quality of life for all

Enhancing quality of life for all

At Arup we are led by the human experience, the different ways that any project in the built and natural environment can improve the lives of users and communities.

The tiniest details and largest ambitions combine in our thinking – from accessibility for all to educational and job opportunities to historical injustices that should be addressed and overcome. As an organisation that shapes every element of the human and natural environment, we are committed to enhancing quality of life for all.

To create social value is to recognise that a place is its people and that they should always have a stake and a voice in its future. ” Sara Candiracci Arup Sara Candiracci Global and Europe Social Value and Equity Leader

There is a risk that social value and equity can be seen as secondary elements of a project or development. Our approach is different. At Arup, we see the social value and equity of any proposed scheme as a chance to think big, consult and co-design working in partnership to produce something of lasting value for all. Clients and communities’ goals can and should overlap – and we can work to create long-term social value and equity part of any scheme, right from the start.  

How we work with you

Community engagement

Community engagement needs and opportunity assessments

Every community is unique, needing understanding and tailored engagement. We use diverse, inclusive, in-person and digital tools to engage local residents, community groups, small/medium enterprises, social enterprises, not-for profits, education establishments, and local political leaders. This ‘deep listening’ phase reveals the needs of particular groups and how to achieve quality of life improvements. It also builds trust and creates a sense of local ownership to a scheme.

We co-create solutions with these groups to ensure that projects, policies and strategies are designed and implemented to ensure positive quality of life outcomes for those involved. Building strong relationships with community-based organisations is critical to achieving equity and justice goals that overcome past harms in the built environment.

Data measurement and reporting

Data, measurement and reporting

Measurement is key to communicating social value benefits, measuring progress and ultimately understanding the positive impact made on people and communities.

We provide, innovative and robust approaches to measuring and evaluating social value and social equity outcomes based on an understanding of our clients’ specific needs. We use standard measurement global and local tools, methodologies and frameworks – such as HACT Social Return on Investment, and International Business Case Guidance.

Our team can also integrate social, economic and environmental data and assess correlations and complexities at a project, corporate and city and regional level. The goal is to provide credible reporting that builds support for an approach or offers lessons for future programmes.

Strategy and delivery models

Advisory support

Socially valuable outcomes depend on ambitious strategies and delivery models designed to create sustaining social value and social equity. It means bringing together stakeholders and communities, relevant data and measurement, with a deep understanding of what clients want to achieve. These factors combine as we develop strategy and delivery models that can achieve both large and local scale quality of life and equity outcomes. These include forming social and economic strategies, defining effective charters between parties, or developing leases or land trusts to establish community decision making long-term.  

Planning and design

Planning and design

For decades, Arup has prioritised quality of life, health and wellbeing in the planning and design of the projects it works on. Today, we support the development of local and regional plans for cities and produce relevant design principles for the private sector. These enable the embedding of social value and equity outcomes into masterplans and individual project designs.

As experts in Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), we work with communities to design places for all – promoting inclusive approaches and increasing the power of the vulnerable and often excluded groups such as children, youth, women, ageing communities, people with disabilities.

Enduring change

To be credible, a socially valuable outcome must be one that leads to enduring and systemic change within communities. That means a focus on the goal of improved quality of life for individuals at every stage of the lifecycle, and a more inclusive and equitable experience for all affected by a scheme. We help clients to identify these possibilities and plan effectively, working across three distinct contexts: 

Cities, regional and national governments

Cities, regional and national governments

For many in government, social value and social equity are clear priorities, but hard to navigate and deliver while also focusing on other goals like climate action and economic growth. We support governments by developing and designing policies and programmes that support inclusive growth, community strength, and address social issues which also bolster economic and environmental outcomes. We also help cities and governments use their powers – such as procurement and planning – to require and design-in social benefits for communities. 

Developers and other corporations

Developers and other corporations

For developers and other corporations, social value and equity are growing in importance as a core part of ESG strategies. We help shape ambitious social value strategies and portfolio-wide frameworks, working with communities and partners to monitor impacts long term and produce credible ESG reporting for stakeholders and investors. We provide advice on supply chain strategies. Such strategies ensure diversity in small/medium enterprises and community-based organisations and also monitor equality, diversity and inclusion and inclusive economic growth outcomes. 

Projects and places

Projects and places

Our social value and equity teams work with public and private organisations across property, housing, transport, energy, water and infrastructure to help create social value and equity through the entire project development lifecycle and into the ongoing operation of projects. We work with communities to identify needs and opportunities which would enable the project to be transformative for their quality of life, create governance structures to ensure the change is delivered long-term, and develop measurement and evaluation frameworks to ensure the change promised is realised and maintained.  

Latest perspectives

New thinking on the role of social value


Meet our people