We are delighted to reproduce our letter on ESG in Property Firms, as published in the Property Week on 1st October 2021.
By Deborah Gray, Director, Totum Partners, London EC2, UK
Editor: The news that the UK’s top property firms are in the midst of a recruitment frenzy should come as little surprise, as businesses across the sector benefit from the surge in optimism and uptick in activity in the wake of the pandemic.
In fact, ONS figures have revealed that the challenge is reflected across the entire economy, as job vacancies in the UK recently reached an all-time high of over one million. For the real estate sector, this has meant an increase in vacancies of 7.4% on the previous three months.
The question remains, however, how firms can navigate this and continue to attract the top talent needed to help them continue to grow in the wake of Covid. This challenge presents a chance for firms to deepen their commitment to the values prioritised by tomorrow’s workers, namely those principles that centre around ESG in property.
Sustainability efforts have been high on the agenda for the sector for some time, with ever-evolving debate around how the built environment and construction industry can reduce its environmental impact.
While the industry ponders initiatives to become ‘greener’ in the years to come, it is vital that firms do not lose sight of the cost of inaction now. In fact, recent research shows that almost a third of workers would quit their job and apply for one that was more environmentally conscious.
At the same time, longstanding pledges to enhance diversity and inclusivity within the real estate workforce must now be turned into action, if firms are to attract new talent. While progress has been made in recent years, men continue to dominate leadership positions, while the industry lags behind in representation for ethnic minorities. Not only do firms without clear D&I strategies risk missing out on swathes of top talent, they fail to recognise and embrace the values of tomorrow’s workers.
Employers can no longer afford to simply pay lip service to D&I and sustainability initiatives. The next generation of talent is increasingly choosing where to work, or where not to work, based on an organisation’s tangible progress against ESG principles. Those firms that do not move with this tide risk finding that their vacancies endure and current workers are voting with their feet. Those that do will benefit from the power and talent of the next generation of workers.
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