Stepping up action on social sustainability

With the nation’s premier annual conference on sustainability in the built environment  underway this week in Melbourne, the Property Council is turning the spotlight on social sustainability as the next significant area of concerted industry action.

Chief Executive Ken Morrison released a new report that defines key concepts and brings together case studies looking at the industry’s growing social sustainability agenda in action.

“Like any major industry, property is dependent on maintaining a social licence to operate,” Mr Morrison said.

“This means living up to evolving community expectations of what they expect from business.

“Australian property companies have forged a world leading position on both economic and environmental sustainability. But sustainability has another dimension encompassing the social outcomes of the work we do. These are inextricably linked to the long-term sustainability of businesses and the communities they serve.

“The property industry by its very nature touches so many lives – from the people we employ as the nation’s biggest generator of jobs, to the people who live in the cities and communities we help create.

“As with environmental sustainability, this means that on the social sustainability front we have an enormous capacity and opportunity to do well by doing good.

“The property industry has significant influence across a large supply chain. Issues of major concern right across the international community, from homelessness to combating modern slavery, are areas where we see an opportunity for the property industry to step up and help deliver solutions.

“The case studies we have put together show how our leading member companies are putting their social sustainability plans into practice. They serve as practical examples, conversation starters and ideas to inspire action from others in the industry.  

“Despite these early and innovative advances we are only just scratching the surface of what it’s possible to deliver on our social sustainability goals. The next step is to work on metrics to measure the social value created by various initiatives, as well as their economic contribution

“In the same way we are using transparency and reporting to drive improved diversity outcomes in the property industry, we want to apply a common set of metrics to support greater benchmarking and place a more robust value on the ‘people’ part of the triple bottom line.

“This will help investors, governments and other stakeholders to understand the social value created, and our great hope is that this will drive further uptake of initiatives with a positive social impact.”

A copy of the report, A Common Language for Social Sustainability, is available at http://bit.ly/2FCwCJE

Media contact:  Fiona Benson | M 0407 294 620 |  E fbenson@propertycouncil.com.au