Challenge

The firm has grown substantially over the last 15-20 years, both through organic growth and acquisition. As we continue to expand, we need to do so in a socially responsible way, so we benefit all our stakeholders and build trust with them.

It was also clear to us that an ethical, trusting and transparent culture is vitally important to attracting and retaining the best talent and for developing the strongest partnerships with our clients.

Action

We are increasingly integrating corporate responsibility into our daily business practices. Our approach, which we call Shared Advantage, is a strategic commitment to creating measurable benefit for the company, our clients and the communities we serve, through socially responsible, market-driven business solutions.

The programme includes objectives aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our commitments are to:

  • improve community health and well-being
  • reduce the impacts of climate change, and
  • build sustainable and economically thriving communities.

To meet these objectives, Shared Advantage begins in the spaces our clients occupy. We promote a culture of health and wellness that improves productivity, through innovative space design and healthy lifestyle programmes.

The concept then expands to embody the built environment as a whole, by helping to increase operational efficiency, make best use of resources and positively influence people’s behaviours, to further increase the property’s value.

Finally, Shared Advantage extends to the community itself, which engages with us to develop policies and practices that incorporate social, environmental, economic, efficient mobility and healthy living considerations. The result is a collaborative partnership, which benefits the entire community.

The way in which we conduct our business is also a fundamental part of Shared Advantage, guided by our RISE values:

  • We act with consideration for others’ ideas and share information openly, to inspire trust and encourage collaboration
  • No one individual, no one deal and no one client is bigger than our commitment to our company and what we stand for
  • We approach our clients’ challenges with enthusiasm and diligence, building long-term relationships by connecting the right people, capital and opportunities
  • We focus relentlessly on creating the best outcomes for our clients, employees and shareholders

Underpinning Shared Advantage is a wide variety of activities. These range from our relentless focus on health and safety, to implementing environmental best practices, to our supplier diversity programme, which looks to expand our relationships with suppliers owned by minorities, women, veterans and other diverse groups.

We also have numerous ways of engaging with all our stakeholder groups, so they understand our approach and performance and we understand and can address their most important issues.

Impact

Shared Advantage has had many measurable benefits. For example, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions from purchased energy by 26.3% between 2015 and 2017, and increased spending with diverse suppliers by 65% in 2017. In the UK, we have raised more than £1m for our charity partner, Shelter. Our employees have also volunteered more than 14,000 hours for charities. Around the world, we are implementing more than 150 actions arising from our 2017 employee engagement survey.

We have also been recognised with numerous awards, including being named a World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute. Forbes ranked us as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity in 2018 and in the top 30 of America’s Best Corporate Citizens. We were also included in Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies 2018. In addition, CBRE is a member of ethical stock market indices such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America and FTSE4Good.

Key lesson

It is extremely important that the core values of the business are visible and consistent to all stakeholders, both through clear and regular communication and through visible actions. Stakeholder feedback needs to be regularly collated, cascaded and acted on.