What are our responsibilities to the communities we create?
I was recently speaking with the Mayor of a growth area municipality about the variety of new land estates and the challenges that come with creating these communities.
He praised the initiatives being demonstrated by a very select few developers while expressing concern over others who put profit before people.
There are many studies that support the theory that if community wellbeing (prospects, purchasers, stakeholders) is at the heart of your strategy, and there is a shared responsibility to deliver what is best for them, then long term sustainability will prevail. According to Larry Fink, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with $6.29 trillion in assets under management as of December 2017, whether your business is privately owned and funded or a publicly listed entity,
“the public expectations of your company have never been greater. Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”
Fink goes on to say, “Your company’s strategy must articulate a path to achieve financial performance. To sustain that performance, however, you must also understand the societal impact of your business as well as the ways that broad, structural trends – from slow wage growth to rising automation to climate change – affect your potential for growth.”
As an example, the new home market in Victoria has changed over the past year. Where we once had ballots, we now offer discounts. Marketing budgets have been slashed and it’s likely that the community engagement and customer relations functions will be the first disciplines to diminish.
Accurate data collection has never been a priority, so we sometimes have little or no understanding of who we are dealing with and what pain points they are experiencing. Are residents in a new community experiencing loneliness and isolation or worse still, mortgage stress?
Do our prospects understand that the outcomes from the banking Royal Commission may impact their ability to borrow?
Are all the relevant stakeholders (developer, local, state and federal governments) delivering the right kind of infrastructure to growth areas? From a customer experience point of view, here are eight things that you can do to ensure you are playing your part:
Become a leader. “A company’s ability to manage environmental, social, and governance matters demonstrates the leadership and good governance that is so essential to sustainable growth,” says Larry Fink.
Define your social purpose and share it with stakeholders. Seek meaningful dialogue that you are prepared to listen to an act upon.
Review your strategy. Does it address long term sustainability?
Set your project teams up for success. Ensure they have the right tools and experience to understand the drivers that will lead to financial success. If they need help, seek an expert to capacity build.
Understand that accurate data collection helps the team make better strategic decisions. Instil that discipline in your sales team.
Review your marketing activity from ‘buy now!” to solving pain points through education. Not everyone is ready to buy today but with regular communication through a variety of mediums, they will fill your sales pipeline.
Deliver on time and if there are delays, communicate early and often. Your delays cost your customers money and cause stress. Don’t justify a delay because you are ‘covered under the contract’.
Don’t look upon a family fun day as ticking the community engagement box. It doesn’t. Dive deeper.
To read Larry Fink’s Annual Letter to CEO’s – “ A Sense of Purpose” – click here.