Chief executive officer, Asia
A good foot massage therapist knows where all your pain points are – and attacks them. Not because he or she is a sadist but because those are exactly the parts that need attention. While it might seem odd to draw parallels between the techniques of a traditional therapist and the corporate sustainability strategies of a construction industry behemoth, the principle is the same: apply effort where the greatest positive impact can be achieved.
As a leading property developer, builder and owner with a global scale, Lendlease goes big when it comes to its commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability. It is a signatory on the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), where it is the only property and construction sector company in the TCFD Secretariat’s Advisory Group for Scenario Planning. It is committed to the UN Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption as well, and has even set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
These might all seem very far removed from the lives of the man on the street, but just as Lendlease’s impact is wide, it is also deep. Guided by macro policies, its offices look at the needs on the ground within their regions and direct their efforts where they make the greatest social impact.
To achieve this, it takes a defined, industry-leading stance on creating and measuring social value. In August, it announced a new social value target to create A$250 million (S$245.5 million) of social value by 2025. “We set a target focused on value creation as opposed to philanthropic spend to shift the focus to value creation and a desire to create positive social change,” shares Tony Lombardo, chief executive officer of Lendlease Asia.
“We decided to focus on initiatives beyond our project and asset obligations because, while targets are something to aspire to, achieving contractual obligations are a given. Lendlease intends to create a 1:5 return. For every $1 million we invest in our shared value partnerships, we are seeking to create $5 million of measurable social value,” he details.
The social value is measured with methodologies such as social return on investment and social impact statements. It also takes into consideration whether an action is in society’s best interest by using a series of well-being data sets to understand the positive impact on the individual and the society.
For example, the company has been actively rebuilding tsunami-stricken Minamisanriku in Japan since 2011, with activities spanning the construction of infrastructure and public facilities to Lendlease volunteers helping on local farms and engaging the elderly residents of the area.
In Malaysia, the company has channelled its resources to Project Komuniti Kita, a 2019 social initiative that focuses on the socio-economic development of children and youths living in affordable housing communities in Kuala Lumpur. Under this initiative, more than 600 children and teenagers from five different public housing neighbourhoods and 370 families have benefited from refurbished community halls, futsal courts, gardens and open spaces – all of which help to create social value by building a sense of community and self and encouraging creativity and the free exchange of ideas.
“We look at a variety of factors, such as how much money was initially invested, how many people were positively impacted, who these people are and where they are located, and how long the positive impact lasts,” says Lombardo. “This enables us to make an impact in the most meaningful way in communities where we have a presence.”
While it assesses the societal impact, Lendlease’s social value metric also guides its internal operations. “Our sustainability ambitions are embodied in our new purpose statement, where we look to create value through places where communities thrive together with our investors, governments and communities where we operate,” says Lombardo. “Beyond our shared value partnerships, Lendlease’s commitment to community remains a focal point for our projects globally.”
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