Making inclusive places and creating thriving communities
This article was originally published on Channel News Asia.
Doing good in the community and being a good neighbour means caring for everyone, starting with those around you.
In that spirit, real estate developer and real estate investment trust company Lendlease is doing its part to make a difference. In celebration of its 50th year of operations in Singapore and as part of the Gift-a-Family initiative, Lendlease gifted a total sum of S$25,000 to 50 ComLink families who live in rental housing in Jurong West, within the vicinity of its shopping mall Jem. ComLink, a movement launched by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in 2019, connects families with children living in public rental housing with community resources and government services, and aims to journey alongside them towards stability, self-reliance and social mobility.
Gift-a-Family, developed by Social Service Office @ Boon Lay and Taman Jurong (SSO) from MSF and a pool of donors in 2020, seeks to give vulnerable families with children the opportunities and resources needed to meet their aspirations. SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Boon Lay is partnering SSO to channel volunteers and resources to meet the needs of the families.
“Giving back is ingrained in our ethos,” said Ms Ng Hsueh Ling, managing director (Singapore) of Lendlease and chairman of Lendlease Global Commercial Trust Management. “We want to enable equity through allocating resources and opportunities, with the aim of the beneficiaries reaching a level playing field and emerging out of inter-generational poverty.”
EMBRACING CORPORATE PURPOSE
The chance to make this socially inclusive gift came to Lendlease via the partnership between SG Cares Office and National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the steward of Singapore’s City of Good vision in which people, organisations and leaders come together to give their best for others.
As a new member of NVPC’s Company of Good network, Lendlease joins other organisations in Singapore that are deepening their efforts to adopt corporate purpose and create impact in the areas of people, society, governance, economic and environment.
Understood as the reason for why a company exists, a clearly defined corporate purpose can help companies to improve business outcomes. A Fortuna Advisors study in 2020 found that companies that were purpose-driven outperformed competitors in market valuation, shareholder value creation and financial performance, even in times of crisis.
Said Ms Ng: “As a company with integrated capabilities in investment, development and construction, we can leverage our expertise to make a difference in generating social, environmental and economic value in the communities we operate in.”
Mr Kelvin Chow, CEO of Lendlease Global Commercial Trust Management, shared that the company’s vision is to create places where communities thrive and to leave a positive legacy for future generations. Under Lendlease’s sustainability framework, there are three key imperatives – sustainable economic growth, vibrant and resilient communities and cities, and healthy planet and people.
The Lendlease Foundation provides funding in support of non-profit and social enterprises that are focused on community development and climate change. Its programmes are the main driver of the A$250 million (S$222 million) social value target that Lendlease has announced, to be achieved by 2025. As of the financial year ending in 2022, A$107 million of value – calculated by social return on investment methodology – has already been created.
BUILDING GREATER CAPABILITIES IN OTHERS
A Lendlease employee repainting a room at Sunbeam Place @ Children’s Society, a residential home for children in need of protection and care.
According to Mr Chow, it is vital for organisations to recognise that they play an integral part in society, beyond their business objectives.
“In addition to demonstrating our worth to stakeholders, being purpose-driven will allow organisations to create value through our business and empower employees to help support addressing societal and environmental challenges, which are becoming increasingly complex and urgent.”
For example, Lendlease has integrated volunteering into its company culture with Community Day – an annual event where Lendlease employees volunteer their time and skills within the communities they live and work in – and expanded its volunteering policy last year to allow employees to take up to three work days annually to volunteer for charitable causes. The updated policy was shared as part of the launch of an internal Volunteering Hub that hosts volunteering activities year-round, many of which are organised by employees themselves.
Besides empowering its employees to do good, Lendlease aims to develop people through inclusive hiring, within the organisation and outside of it.
At Project Dignity, 40 persons with disabilities will be trained and certified in kitchen and restaurant management skills under a two-year partnership with Lendlease Foundation. Project Dignity is a social enterprise that supports persons with disabilities with vocational training and job placement in the food and beverage industry. Upon completing the Lendlease Train-and-Place programme, participants will be matched with local establishments for employment.
Trainees at Project Dignity presenting their dishes as part of the Train-and-Place programme for adults with special needs.
BUILDING A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Lendlease is also seeking to do good as part of its business operations. As a real estate developer focused on creating places where people and businesses can thrive, this means making the environment a key part of its purpose.
Lendlease has set itself a series of ambitious carbon reduction targets that are in line with international efforts to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, including its targets of net-zero carbon (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025 and absolute-zero carbon (Scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2040.
Doing good for the environment is good for the company’s long-term sustainability, too. Having identified climate-related impact as a material risk to its business, Lendlease Global Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust (LREIT) works closely with industry and government to develop plans to respond to the physical, transitional and financial risks associated with climate change.
LREIT is the first Singapore REIT to attain net-zero carbon (Scope 1 and 2) in 2022, three years ahead of its target year of 2025. Last year, it obtained an S$860 million unsecured sustainability-linked loan – one of the largest among Asia REITs – that will allow it to enjoy savings on borrowing costs as it works towards Lendlease’s climate change targets through its portfolio in Singapore.
As more Companies of Good stay true to their corporate purpose, they are seeing returns – not just for their business, but also for the society, environment and Singapore as a nation.
Said Mr Chow: “Corporates have an important role to play in advancing both environmental and social sustainability and bringing to reality a future where businesses and communities can operate safely and sustainably.”