The firm’s head of social value is proud to have helped change people’s lives for the better. She is also a jazz-loving saxophonist

Why did you choose construction as a career?

As the economic cycle is shifting, construction’s role in engaging with communities and creating positive socio-economic opportunities for people is becoming increasingly important. Throughout my career I have been connecting construction organisations who want to make a difference with people in local areas, and the results have always been fantastic. I have really seen people’s lives getting better as a result.

Now I get to work directly for a construction consultant to steer social value programmes at a difficult time for millions across the country.

Lauren Bailey Profile Picture

Lauren Bailey

What has been your biggest career challenge to date?

Changing behaviours that are embedded in organisations. Traditional business models place profit over everything, and we need to transform that. We are already seeing a seismic shift in the importance of understanding the environmental, socio-economic and community risks associated with “doing business”, especially in construction.

Many organisations and their employees have not yet embraced this change in business perspective, and this is my challenge to tackle as a social value expert.

What have you worked on that you’re most proud of?

I am most proud of the career and entrepreneurial programmes and opportunities I have helped to set up for people in deprived areas, where I could see someone living their dream. Perhaps my most notable programme has been working with Brent council on a start-up support initiative for people in south Kilburn, one of the most deprived areas of London.

The initiative heard business presentations from start-up ideas in the area, in a competition for £1,000 in pre-seed funding to set up the basics for starting a business. I could see the difference that the money made for the winners, who were living out their dream as a result of the funding.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I think the construction industry has been taking steps in the right direction with regards to ESG, diversity and inclusion. However, construction organisations can get even better at promoting jobs in the sector to young people and make these promotion programmes a top priority.

Positively advertising to people at an early age can have a huge influence and impact, especially on young women who have been disincentivised from working in construction for a long time, when in fact there are so many exciting opportunities for everyone.

Career paths in ESG roles in construction are varied, forward-looking, with potential to change the world – these are the roles that we need to draw more young people into.

Most helpful advice you were given?

Given the nature of my role, I have always found myself mentoring people and trying to guide them. When someone suggested I find a mentor for myself, I was sceptical at first, but I found one and it changed my life for the better.

Notre Dame low res

Source: Shutterstock

The cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture

What’s your favourite building in the world?


What single piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in your profession?

Keep going through the good and the bad. There are many challenges in creating social value – it is politically and economically sensitive, but we are making a massive difference.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

I am fairly new to construction, but I have been inspired by the recent story of Muyiwa Oki, the RIBA president-elect for 2022.


Least favourite building: The Shard at London Bridge

Which famous building do you most dislike?

The Shard

What’s it like being you?

It varies, really. My career has allowed me to be creative within the umbrella of social value. I have engaged with people from all walks of life and learnt the power of empathy.

What do you think your best quality is?

A strong listener.

Name three things that you like

Tennis, chess, jazz music.

What’s a secret skill we don’t know you have?

I’m a saxophonist.

Early bird or night owl?

Early bird.

What’s your favourite food?

Caribbean cuisine.

What would your superpower be?

The ability to travel back in time to revisit all my happy memories.

Lauren Bailey is the head of social value at Ridge and Partners