While governing behaviours both formally and informally, social responsibility has been adopted by the corporate world as an integral component of a company’s holistic marketing and operations strategy.
This adoption of social responsibility is increasingly important to the property development industry as the impacts of each project affect both individuals and the environment. Here we discuss the importance of socially responsible behaviours and the benefits afforded to you by keeping them front of mind.
What is social responsibility
Most discussions involving social responsibility, focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
CSR is effectively a form of corporate self-regulation, where businesses and individuals behave in the ‘spirit of the law’. Often these behaviours are a result of regulated standards that require adherence, but they also often stem from informal norms that are considered ‘ethical standards’.
Advocates for CSR argue that there are many benefits to maintaining these values and standards. Rich among them is the ability to attract more desirable employees, enhancing the reputation of the brand, differentiating the brand and improving relationships with suppliers.
Property developers who maintain honest CSR behaviours and fundamentally ‘do the right thing’ can count themselves as ‘socially responsible’ and will see advantages applied as a result.
During the planning phase of any project it is highly advised that you uncover all potential impacts your development will have, both socially and environmentally.
Assembling the right team from the start can save time and stress through the life of the project. An experienced town planner should be able to forewarn you of any possible objections that may arise from neighbours. Through collaborating with your architect, the designs may be suitably tailored towards mitigating any objections and allow for faster council approval.
You may be required to submit an impact assessment, along with your plans, to gain your Development Approval (DA). These assessments vary state to state; however, each have common threads that lie in mitigating significant detrimental impacts to the surrounding environment and its occupants.
As an aside, even though neighbour consultation is not statutory it is encouraged and should occur before a DA is lodged with the Planning and Land Authority. Taking the time to properly consider the impacts and engage with those affected will assist your projects when it comes time for assessment by the council.
Ways to demonstrate responsible behaviour
Many organisations will have socially responsible mandates and practices which are often listed on their website or annual reports. The streams of CSR behaviours and practices is broad, ranging from support for charity organisations to partnerships with ethical suppliers to achieving industry recognised accreditations.
In a world first earlier this year, a development in Bangaroo, Sydney, achieved platinum level for their WELL Building Standard; an accreditation that assesses a building’s impact on occupants across seven core concepts.
"There's been a big focus on sustainability and having sustainable buildings and sustainable precincts," says Kylie Rampa Chief Executive for property at Lendlease, the development company involved.
The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is another important authority and certifier of sustainable buildings, communities and cities within Australia.
There are a range of accreditations that survey the potential impacts a development may have. Garnering these across your portfolio can do great things for your overall brand image and assist with future development projects.
Benefits of acting socially responsible
The benefits of engaging in CSR behaviours are wide spread. As well as the benefits applied to individuals directly impacted by your development, and the potential for a more streamlined approval process, developers themselves are experiencing an advantage in the marketability of their projects.
A paper published by Dr Sharon Yam Lee Hong at the University of South Australia discusses the advantages of social responsibility from a property developer’s perspective.
Dr Hong found that with the increase awareness of CSR “more and more housing developers incorporate CSR elements into their projects to improve project competitiveness.”
It is a way of differentiating a particular project or company. This trend towards responsible behaviours exists in a multitude of industries and Dr Hong notes that “there is an increase in demand for businesses to address social concern, and businesses which are not socially responsible are losing advantage to their competitors.”
CSR has evolved from an ideal, to a strategy and now to a standard. The time taken to consider and address the impacts of your project will not only assist the approval process, but should serve as a toll for differentiation and marketing come time for sale.