Why our communities matter
For SEGRO, investing in the local community isn't only the right thing to do - it's also key to the success of the business
The notion of property developers investing in communities is not new. At SEGRO we started doing this over a hundred years ago, but it’s fair to say that the expectations on companies today are quite different to what they were then.
There are plenty of cynical views about why companies invest in communities. Every developer will have to invest in the community as a condition of planning, whether through Section 106, affordable homes, Community Infrastructure Levy or something else, but others choose to implement community investment programmes above and beyond this.
So why do communities matter? First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do, but at SEGRO we also believe it is fundamental to the success of our business.
Investors increasingly require businesses to demonstrate ESG credentials that are transparent, credible, measurable and auditable prior to making an investment. In order to continue attracting investment, putting in place an authentic ESG strategy that includes community investment is fast becoming a prerequisite for funding.
Government policy and legislation are also changing, and many of the proposed changes are designed to benefit local communities through improving low-carbon growth, creating jobs and increasing local authority income.
There is also an expectation at Government and local authority level that the real estate sector can and should do more to mitigate the impact of development on the local areas and maximise the opportunities for local people. Furthermore, communities can make or break local authority decisions, so it is important to build strong, trusting and mutually beneficial partnerships with a wide range of local stakeholders.
We need to build trust and help to shape emerging social-led planning policies to ensure they are fit for purpose for the community and our industry.
Finally, we know that many employees are passionate about community investment and the sense of pride this creates. It therefore plays a vital role in attracting and retaining talent into the sector.
It might sound easy, but one of the important lessons we have learned is that to do community investment well requires planning, focus, local knowledge and commitment. We need to engage and listen to what communities want and respond accordingly. We can’t assume we know what is best.
At SEGRO, our community investment approach is implemented through our Responsible SEGRO framework through which we are delivering our ESG commitments. We have set a goal to create and implement Community Investment Plans for all our key markets.
The plans are designed to support local people to develop the right skills to get a job, to help the local economy to thrive and, to deliver environmentally-led community projects that enhance biodiversity and improve health and wellbeing.
As well as encouraging SEGRO colleagues to get involved, we will, by the end of 2023, enlist the help of over 100 customers and suppliers in the Community Investment Plan programme to further enhance the reach and impact.
We are focused on measurable outcomes that will have the biggest positive impact. We believe that over the next 10 years our £25m+ investment will enable 50,000 students to be engaged and inspired to fulfil their potential through our school’s programme; 15,000 people to benefit from skills, training, and job brokerage programmes; and 300 initiatives delivered to improve the environment, health and wellbeing of the local community.
At SEGRO we believe that as an industry we can act as a catalyst and accelerator for good in the communities in which we operate. We are very happy to share our experiences with any of our peers if it helps to drive an industry-wide effort.
Now is the time to create momentum that will respond to the needs of these stakeholder groups and help change the lives of the most vulnerable in our society.
Community Case Studies:
SEGRO has partnered with Groundwork UK to deliver 30 community environmental projects.
Since 2022 13 projects have been completed supporting the improvement of biodiversity and community wellbeing. From schools to community centres, food hubs to meadows, the projects have improved over 10,000m2 of community green space.. The projects have also supported over 70 disadvantaged, long-term unemployed and vulnerable members of the community to change their lives through accessing ‘Green Skills’ training, mentoring and skills support, and helping them on the path to employment.
Schools Work Programme - Slough
In partnership with Learning to Work, we are engaging with all secondary schools in Slough through a range of activities delivered to all year groups, including careers talks and workplace visits to the Slough Trading Estate. The creation of an online resource, Work Ready Club, is also providing careers leads in school with a wide variety of material to support their students as their make decisions about their future careers. Since 2022, the programme has helped inspire over 6,800 students from 18 schools about career opportunities in a wide range of sectors such as real estate, construction, manufacturing, and digital technology.
SEGRO has supported Action West London - an employability and careers-focused charity – to provide focused training and guidance to unemployed people in West London.
They have delivered focused and bespoke employability training for vulnerable, unemployed people to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to enter the workplace, as well as a range of short courses, with each client supported by a personal advisor/mentor and bursaries for 6 months once in employment. The first tranche of funding up to March 23 resulted in: 201 engagements, 164 project starts and 70 beneficiaries into work.