Using the Levelling Up Goals to manage change

Managing change is a challenge. You can only judge how well you’re doing if you’ve established a baseline, identified targets and then are able to effectively measure the progress you’ve made.

That will be a key issue for the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, as we await this autumn’s White Paper. There are high expectations from the public, as well as his parliamentary colleagues, but delivering opportunity to those parts of the country where in the past it has been far too thin on the ground will undoubtedly be a long-term challenge. We will need to be able to assess and evaluate progress over the coming months and years within a framework of shared language and common goals.

The Levelling up Goals launched earlier this year with the Purpose Coalition provides that common architecture - for businesses, civil society and other organisations, including the public sector, who are part of the push on levelling up. From early years through to career progression, from digital connectivity to good health and wellbeing, they cover all the elements that can contribute to a level playing field of opportunity.

Many businesses now ‘get’ why it is important that they look more closely at the social element in their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agendas. The Levelling Up Goals define the “S” bit of ESG. Some of the most committed businesses have partnered with the Purpose Coalition to articulate their purpose more clearly and then use the Levelling Up Goals to help them make the right choices on where and how to focus their actions. Leading the way is the legal and professional services group, Gateley - it’s the very first business to publish its strategy on delivering social impact using the 14 Levelling Up Goals in its recently launched Responsible Business report.

By setting specific targets linked to the Goals and their impact on People, Potential and Planet, Gateley can demonstrate the difference it is making to its employees, its clients and its communities. With a commitment to measure its performance on a quarterly basis, the results will be transparent and quantifiable. In real terms this means articulating its current achievement as well as its ambition for the future – for example on People, it partners with the Greater Birmingham Professional Services Academy delivering workshops that support students in their learning but also aims to explore Disability Confident Employer status; on Potential, it offers parental support and coaching after time away from work but has also piloted a law returners programme in Leeds; on Planet, it acts on behalf of major housebuilders, advising on sustainability but is also aiming to deliver the actions set out in its energy saving plan.

Like many large businesses, Gateley’s reach goes far beyond the company itself. By using the Levelling Up Goals to focus clearly on what it is doing well but also to acknowledge where there is a need to do more, it has the capacity to deliver a coherent strategy for change. The Levelling Up Goals now provide a shared language on the “S” element of ESG and a platform where other organisations can compare and contrast their own experiences. Gateley is already leading by example with many others, from the private and public sector and education, also set to follow.

This article was authored by Rt Hon Justine Greening, former Education Secretary and founder of the Levelling Up Goals, it was originally published at on November 17, 2021.

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