Whilst sustainability was the buzzword for 2021, this year ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance issues) is at the forefront of discussions. We know that action is needed now across all industries to combat climate change – and in the UK alone, the construction sector is accountable for 47% of carbon dioxide emissions, demonstrating just how important it is that we deliver new homes and buildings sustainably.
Hollie and Niamh attended a recent Profile Q&A Seminar: ‘What ESG means for Property Marketing & Communications’. The panel consisted of representatives including seminar host Howard Kennedy alongside Savills IM, Workman and MPC, who discussed how ESG fits into corporate communications across the property industry. It is clear after listening to these experts in the field that ESG will be integral to the success of all businesses going forward.
But what does it actually mean and why is it important?
E – Environmental: This encompasses sustainability and everything a company is doing to mitigate its impact on the environment. This includes materials used during construction, waste, carbon footprint, energy consumption as well as aspects like the provision of greener transport e.g. EVCP’s, electric scooters etc.
S – Social: Human rights, labour standards, workplace health and safety, diversity and inclusion, community impact. This could also include affordable housing or building public spaces for the benefit of the local community.
G – Governance: Company structure, decision-making process, corporate policies, corporate responsibility etc.
Increasing numbers of organisations are thinking beyond sustainability alone and using ESG as a framework to assess its responsibilities, internal operations, and reputation. ESG has perhaps never been so important from an investment and reputational standpoint, as businesses are held to higher standards than ever before.
And in recent years, there is evidently a climate of scepticism and a spotlight cast on what companies are and are not doing – and if you are not doing your bit, you will be “called out.” Younger generations are much more concerned about what a company’s net zero targets are, and how they treat their employees for example than ever before – and employees are increasingly holding companies to account… As C G Jung said: “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
It is clear that authenticity is key where ESG is concerned. If it is something that is prioritised and committed to internally, it is a fantastic way to instil purpose at every level of an organisation and create a consistent framework throughout. As well as fulfilling what some may say is an ethical duty, it helps build a positive and solid reputation (which I’m sure you know is priceless), ultimately benefitting the organisation immeasurably – whether through winning land bids, attracting employees or stakeholder engagement.
There is constant innovation within the property sector that we see in our clients daily that incorporates ESG. From smart apps such as those delivered by Spike Global that bring together communities, to pioneering methods of construction by companies such as Elite NuGEN and its construction arm Elite Offsite, as well as a huge focus on health and safety and community outreach – Barratt Developments’ ‘Community Fund’ donations spring to mind.
Of course, once you have the structures in place and you’re doing the work – or, like many of our clients, are already doing the work – it is our place as PR’s to shout about it! As well as incorporating ESG into internal communications, which is the first step to master, it’s important to get the message out there and let everyone know what you’re doing – from local councils to the wider housebuilding industry.
We know that having a careful approach to ESG is absolutely crucial for businesses going forwards, including those in both the residential and commercial property sectors. But with plenty of greenwashing existing in the current drive for sustainability action, property companies need to set meaningful, realistic targets to ensure their net zero ambitions become a reality.
If you are looking for PR support for ESG or sustainability in your property business, contact Hollie Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.