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In sickness and in health - staying the course with ESG


It’s a tricky time for many working across the built environment sector at the moment. Sales, falling. House prices, reducing. Interest rates, rising. Inflation, not abating.

Different tiers of government haven’t been entirely helpful either. SoS Michael Gove’s proposed changes to the NPPF have prompted many local authorities to pause, take stock or even withdraw their Local Plans, resulting in more delays to plan-led community development coming forward in the right way.

Not only that, but when Local Plans do pick up again, the chances of Green Belt land being released for development have reduced dramatically, with a growing number of authorities already considering their options.

Having sufficient local authority resource to deal with these things is another matter entirely. Finding decent land has become ever more competitive too, making it harder for developers to acquire sites and being enough of a differentiator when measured against competitors.

All in all, not a great situation we find ourselves in.

But when times are tough, the temptation is to spend less time and money on matters relating to ESG, whether focusing on specific sites or the company’s overall operations.

But ESG should be thought of as a successful marriage – you need to stay the course, whether things are going well or indeed the opposite. This will allow companies to endure and better weather the storms to come.

With the great resignation and extremely competitive jobs market, recruitment is becoming increasingly important to the fortunes of a business.

The findings of a recent study show one-third of Gen-Zs said they wanted jobs aligned with their environmental values, while 92% said they wanted “values and purpose” from a company.

If you’re seeking planning permission, community (and political) expectations about what developers can deliver within and beyond the red line will only increase, regardless of what the economic outlook is.

Customers on the hunt for a new home will place more of an emphasis on the ESG credentials of housebuilder – landowners too. The climate emergency is still an emergency. Social inequalities are still growing. Employers and supply chains are being held to account.

Reducing your ESG policy to a tick-box exercise will mean it lacks the authenticity and integrity consumers now crave. Instead it should run through like a golden thread to all parts of your business, and be communicated externally to reflect this, both in sickness and in health.

Want to talk ESG? Meeting Place is here to help, wherever you are on your ESG journey. Get in touch with George Beard, Deputy Managing Director:

We’re the Meeting Place of deep knowledge and creative thinking. And we want to hear from you.