Social value set to keep knocking


You don’t have to look far at the moment to see a generation of ‘social value’ knocking on the doors of industry leaders – whether it is the impact of Greta Thunberg or Extinction Rebellion that has brought it to your attention, environmental pressure groups in particular have been grabbing more headlines than ever. The property industry has received its fair share of criticism in regard to its impact on social issues, from green-home targets and carbon emissions, to standards of living. But how is this new generation going to further its pressure on the decision makers and how will we see it impact our industry?

The FT has forecasted its property trends for the next decade and it’s no surprise eco-homes, BTR and pre-fab construction are topping the list so far, given the heightened focus on environmental issues and better management of our existing and future residential housing stock. They estimate that over the next 10 years, we will all become more willing to change our behaviours, with Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of BRE Group quoted to say “Generations coming now won’t settle for lower quality,” with children and young adults wearing their green credentials as a badge of pride, “putting pressure on their peers and even their parents”. My generation were more interested in comparing Tamagotchi’s, so the thought of my one year old one day asking me about my eco-efforts makes me shake in my boots, but it is this awareness which will changes things for the better.

When it comes to social contributions, there are opportunities for this new generation to form more of a transparent link between social value and fiduciary responsibility. Changing the mindsets once and for all and spearheading dedicated in-house teams, these teams can tackle investment strategies and leave a lasting impact. A recent study by the British Council for Offices, Legal & General and the Social Value Portal showed that in terms of the social impact of investments, the property industry could be capturing £15bn to £20bn a year of currently lost social benefit. That is quite the lasting impact.

These new generations have the mindset and commitment to change the industry needs. Let’s keeping listening, and hopefully it won’t take 10 years.