A commitment to common good is more than altruistic; it’s good business

As I made my way out of Davos, driving through the Swiss Alps and reflecting, I was struck by the overwhelmingly optimistic and energetic mood of the past week.

January 28, 2020

Sure, there was disagreement – sometimes profound disagreement. But the dialogue consistently centered around a shared, and seemingly unanimous commitment to upholding the principles of the stakeholder economy – from designing fairer economies and inclusive workplaces, to shaping a cleaner planet and healthy futures.

Across all my conversations with clients and other leaders, it was abundantly clear that the concept of purpose has become pervasively woven into business ethos. Maybe it’s the merging of the once distinct notions of ‘work’ and ‘life‘ that has created such significant expectations for business to lead in a new way and embed new measures of value into performance metrics. Smart companies understand that they must create value for all their stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. By doing so, they also drive shareholder value and ensure the long-term sustainability of their business.

As Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of Blackrock, wrote in his letter to CEOs earlier this month, “purpose is the engine of long-term profitability.” When business leaders understand the value we create for investors is fundamentally linked to operating sustainably and responsibly, everyone wins.

At JLL, we embrace our purpose to shape the future of real estate for a better world. With the built environment accounting for about 30% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions globally, we understand that the way we build and manage real estate can have a tremendous impact on the long-term health of the planet.

Moreover, we accept our responsibility to shape the built environment to help people thrive. Real estate has the power to make people feel welcome, revitalize distressed communities and keep people healthy and safe. When projects incorporate sustainability, wellness, accessibility, safety, diversity and community, they will have clear advantages in the market. Although traditional measures of real estate value must still be considered going forward, we all should think bigger in terms of value, impact and purpose.

I’m optimistic that the conversations we’ve had in Davos will lead to lasting change. As a business community, we must continually challenge each other to raise the bar when it comes to our commitment to sustainable business. The future depends on it.

Neil Murray
Global Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Solutions