Prioritising the 'S' in ESG: Investing in social value


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The decisions made by investors investing into the built environment in which we all live have an enduring impact on our lives.

Building on a series of papers we have commissioned around social or societal value, this paper is intended to provide a snapshot of how investors are responding to the demands to deliver returns and demonstrate a positive influence on the environment and society.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) led investment, once a discrete area of investment, is now being placed at the top of the agenda in boardrooms across the world. In the context of COP26 and the global movement to tackle the climate crisis, as well as the relative ease of measuring environmental impact, the ‘S’ in ESG can sometimes get overlooked. For these reasons, we wanted to examine specifically how much social outcomes are driving investment decisions.

The alignment of profit with the pursuit of positive social and environmental outcomes is rapidly becoming the way we are all measured. As with many organisations we are looking not just at the way we operate as a business but how we can work with our clients and the industries in which we operate to support change and to demonstrate the positive impact responsible businesses can have.

We see these as both scary but also exciting times when we have the opportunity to rise to the challenges we are facing and change our urban environments for the better. In a real estate context this means it is more important than ever to deliver what our communities really need and want.

Environmental and social outcomes are intrinsically interlinked as we look to find new ways of building the right environments for sustainable, resilient, and diverse communities. The next stage of this initiative with the Social Market Foundation will examine this topic further and put forward ideas for what needs to change in the public and private sectors to ensure the wider economic wellbeing of our communities.

We look forward to engaging with leading voices across the industry around this topic. Please do get in touch if you would like to be involved.

To read our latest research please click here.

*The research was sponsored by Trowers & Hamlins. The Social Market Foundation retained full editorial independence.

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