Last week, I attended an event led by Cardiff Business School which explored how procurement can be used as a tool to tackle poverty. With a background in equalities, I have been promoting this kind of approach for a while as a way to increase social value by ensuring public funds are used as a lever for change so it was exciting to have a whole day talking about how we might do that.
One of the main topics of discussion in Wales right now is the Well-being of Future Generations Act which came into force earlier this year. The Act legislates for sustainable development and sets out seven well-being goals that public bodies have to work towards.
During the day, we discussed the goal for A Resilient Wales and how we might achieve this nationally. The discussion was informed by a presentation on resilience in manufacturing and covered resilience in its broadest sense. As we explored the challenges, it became obvious to me that there is a fundamental requirement for strong leadership which facilitates the development of resilience in organisations, communities and individuals.
Firstly, to achieve resilience, leaders have to mark it out as a priority. We can all continue delivering in a way that is unsustainable, providing services for the here and now without protecting our resources (human and financial) to continue into the future. Or, we can take a moment to think about what we’re doing and whether we are doing it in the best way, not just for now but for the long term. In order to make this happen, we need our leaders to take a stand and consider how we can stop doing more for less and instead focus on ensuring we can stand up to the pressures of reduced budgets and increased expectations to ensure we maintain economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being.
Once we have committed to achieving resilience, I would argue that the first step in reaching the goal, is building resilience amongst our people. Delivering national well-being requires energy and commitment from our officers in the public service. Richard Branson was in the news not long ago for saying that the customer comes second and staff come first. His rationale being that if you look after your employees, they will look after the customer. This kind of philosophy is one that I believe is in keeping with the objectives of well-being and sustainable development in Wales. If we are thinking about the long term and the impact on future generations, then surely what we need to do is consider the way we are working and address that for the long term so that the people who will deliver national well-being have the energy, passion and drive to do so.