There’s a trait among property companies to hide their light under a bushel until it spills out from its confines and become part of the ordinary day. No longer a surprise, business as usual.
Thing is, it’s not very inspirational by then and therefore not particularly aspirational. Not so with Mirvac.
In 2014 Mirvac did the brave thing and announced a set of ambitions and targets that caught most people in the property sector off guard.
Its This Changes Everything Program set bold targets to be net zero positive by 2030 and to recycle 95 per cent of its waste.
Not long after other property companies set their own bold targets to be net zero positive by around the same time scale. These are announcements that shake people up. Like the Living Building Challenge shopping centre at Burwood in Melbourne by Frasers Property Australia and the huge urban veggie patch they want to put there.
If there is one thing the property industry is, it’s competitive as Lendlease’s Liam Timms told us at our Bring Your Office to Life event in Brisbane in March.
Now Mirvac is back with a recommitment and reinforcement of its original targets with a TCE V2 target that is just as ambitious. Last week chief executive Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz announced the company would send a massive $100 million towards purpose-driven enterprises by 2030.
The way that amount will be assessed and measured and broken up into its component parts hasn’t been entirely decided yet, but then neither had the exact pathway to the TCE V1.
In an interview ahead of the launch last week, Mirvac general manager sustainability Sarah Clarke shared some of the thinking she’s designed around the strategy.
There are good reasons to leave things a bit flexible and moveable, she said.
The amount is cumulative to 2030 and includes social procurement, donations of time and money and direct corporate donations, but the breakdown between the different categories can’t be quantified as yet. Part of the reason is that the company wants to not be prescriptive.
“We want to empower our people to be really creative to make choices,” Clarke said.
“I imagine they will come up with suggestions about what they want to do that will surprise me and others.”
How corporate donations or community investment is defined is subject to an internationally accepted definition, Clarke says.
“For example, if you are doing a residential community and you put a café in it and decide to make the case fora social enterprise café instead, the cost of that would be counted.”
You’re able to count as donations the value of the time in volunteering and foregone revenue.
“There are rules and metrics around that.” They’re strict and evolving all the time, Clarke said.
The procurement piece is hardest to quantify – it’s designed to redirect regular procurement spend to “for purpose” organisations but what proportion that will be is still open.
“The form it will take is redirecting our procurement spend to social enterprise and social business, asking our employees how the purchasing decisions they make could add extra value to society.”
Part of the program will entail lifting the company’s cap on fully paid volunteer leave from two days a year to unlimited.
“We already have four times the Australian and New Zealand average. We expect that number will grow when the unlimited.”
How is this to be taken?
In the same way as other leave is agreed in consultation with managers, Clarke said.
Some will be organised and others will be flexile. Some of the donations will be about labour and some about skills.
The company will take guidance from within the group on fine details with the program expected to come into force later this year.
“I will be writing the policy and the policy will be based on what the employees will say is important.”
Two other targets are also included – to have a “highly engaged workforce” and to be the most trusted owner and developer in Australia.
While Clarke concedes most property companies aspire to these outcomes the difference here, she says, is that Mirvac will crystallise these ambitions and formally track progress through measuring trust and transparency.
Over the next few years that’s a story that will spread beyond the team and hopefully out from under the bushel.