ESG: Understanding Good Corporate Citizenship

With Matthew Turpin, Senior Corporate Affairs Manager & ESG Lead at Lifestory Group 

In an increasingly polarised society, you’d be forgiven for not immediately spotting the difference between corporate wokeness and corporate woke-washing. As businesses navigate their personal approach to a Environmental, Social and Governance strategy, discrepancies in promises and delivery have previously caused a breakdown of trust between the public and the corporates. Perhaps to begin building back these relations, we must dial back to the understanding that on both sides of the table, we are all just people - people who ultimately wish to see progress in the world around us. In the pursuit of authentic progress, no grand sweeping statements are necessary, just honest changes that are only made when we tap into our personal consciences. 

Desmond Tutu once said “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” - a sentiment that embodies the power of simply being a good person, moreover a good corporate citizen. As with all trends, it has been lost in translation that businesses by very definition cannot be perfect when it comes to sustainability or social mobility, regardless of commitments to carbon neutrality in the next fifty years or employing people from diverse backgrounds. This is because the structure of our society is too entrenched in previous ideology; we have to dial it back to the roots of the issues, taking time, effort and money. At Lifestory, we’re encouraged to expand our understanding on that basis, becoming active members of our communities and acting with a degree of authentic subtlety. Speak up for those who don’t have the platform to make a stand; involve yourself in the education of communities so that regeneration can become less about property and more about people, levelling the playing field of those in future generations; innovate your product at the expense of additional profits to benefit the planet in years to come. In this essence, a balance can be struck and true changes can be made. As part of good corporate citizenship, we leave the hollow promises behind and simply do more to be better. 

Lifestory set up a Sustainability Working Group in the spirit of open discussion and a desire to build upon what we already do within the ESG sphere, and take it further, as we mirror the sentiment of David Attenborough at COP26: this is the decisive decade. In line with recent report findings by Stack Data Strategies and Hanbury Strategy, a business’ approach to climate change now falls within the realm of consumer perceived bread and butter, second only to the company’s treatment of its people; employees and customers alike. Yet, there’s a broadening understanding that it is not the responsibility of corporate actors to revolutionize the climate crisis; it is the actors, predominantly on a governmental level, who have the control of this. Instead, we have the responsibility to be alive to our own behaviours and make the necessary changes to be greener, cleaner and ultimately better. In that vein, your business is required to be humanised by the people within it and act with the aforementioned conscience. Similar to recognising our societal privilege, we must take accountability for the pressure our actions have on the environment around us. 

Acting with a sense of accountable emotion must be at the heart of the new business as usual. Before the ESG buzzword was quite so popular, Lifestory took the stand that those in property development, real estate and construction must act with the level of consideration and care reflective of the people whose homes our developments become. Simply put, although Lifestory is an actor within an established but ever changing industry, our good corporate citizenship is defined by our personal ideal of creating quality homes as spaces for people to be. This sentiment, alongside our work culture being driven by a collective desire for continuous improvement, forms the basis of our business DNA. We believe that as soon as you see beyond the bricks and mortar, and quite literally into the windows of our peoples’ homes, you recognise the humane desire of wanting to be held accountable for our actions as industry players. Emotion lets us do better and be better, enabling us to act with good corporate citizenship.