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Places People Prefer

The Office
Agenda

Sustainability

Valuable data at our fingertips

Dr Jeremy Osborn of EY and Sarah Cary of British Land talk non-financial reporting – and how having this kind of data at your fingertips can empower decision-making and unlock hidden value

Non-financial reporting covers a range of areas, including environmental performance, social/employee matters, respect for human rights, anti-corruption/bribery and supply chain impacts. Alongside financial data, this wider information provides investors and other stakeholders with a meaningful, comprehensive view of a company’s performance. Being in the right office building and engaging with a like-minded landlord can contribute positively to an organisation’s non-financial reporting.

Why does non-financial reporting matter?

Jeremy Osborn: Typically, around 50-80% of a company’s market value is not accounted for by financial data – it’s hidden. Leading companies such as British Land recognise the tremendous potential of non-financial data to give insights into where this value resides and where it’s been created or destroyed. Although financial systems have become dominant in organisational data, we all intuitively know that other types of ‘capital’, such as people and the relationships they form, also play a significant role in value creation.

Non-financial reporting gives insights that can drive better decision-making both at a strategic and operational level – for the company’s leadership, for external stakeholders, for institutional investors and, in British Land’s case, for occupiers.

Sarah Cary: There are two main benefits to robust non-financial reporting. Firstly, from a risk management perspective, good reporting provides evidence that a company is behaving responsibly, monitoring its environmental impacts and social outcomes, and acting on what it finds. Secondly, access to good data empowers decision-making. Businesses that care about their people and the planet need to be based in buildings owned and managed by firms that share their values and can provide the data to back this up.

What kind of non-financial data do property owners have at their fingertips?

Jeremy: The property sector is ahead of the curve in ‘operationalising’ non-financial data – for example, using energy and water data to improve building performance. This is because understanding things like the energy efficiency of a building is a critical input into sustainability certification, regulatory requirements and occupancy costs, as buildings that are more energy-efficient have lower utility bills.

“Businesses that care about their people and the planet need to be based in buildings owned and managed by firms that share their values and can provide the data to back this up”

Sarah: We know that many of our occupiers, particularly in offices, are using the environmental information we provide through our building teams and service charge packs. They’re drawing on it in their own reporting and identifying opportunities to improve energy efficiency in their areas.

We’re also seeing interest from occupiers in our emerging data on wellbeing, as we look at measuring factors that affect underlying productivity, such as air quality and activity levels. This could be of real value to businesses that are enthusiastic about attracting the best talent and ensuring they perform to their potential.

How does British Land perform on non-financial reporting?

Jeremy: British Land’s non-financial reporting is among the most comprehensive and thorough of any of the organisations with whom I have worked. An area where British Land’s non-financial reporting is particularly interesting is wellbeing. British Land is asking people at its London campuses and shopping centres about their experiences, systematically collecting data to understand the features of a building that affect people’s overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Sarah: British Land is strong at non-financial reporting and we’re happy to share our knowledge. So, if our occupiers are thinking differently about investing in their people or environment, we can provide them with information they can rely on for decisions. If they want to become a Living Wage Foundation employer, we can help them quickly understand the costs. If they want to become carbon neutral or set up an internal carbon budget, we can provide the data to make it happen.

What do you see down the track?

Jeremy: Once non-financial data is on a par with financial data in terms of reliability, the future I’d like to see is one where value is understood and accounted for in a much more balanced way. There are several signs that this change is coming. The London Stock Exchange recently published guidance on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data – an indication that stock markets and investors are recognising the value of this type of data when it’s produced to a high standard. I am excited to see how future reporting evolves.

Sarah: Almost two thirds of Millennials want to work for a company that has a positive impact on the world. Statements about values and ethics don’t make the grade without meaningful numbers behind them. Initiatives like our Supply Chain Charter make occupiers feel comfortable with the way our properties are managed, that we’re doing what’s right in terms of wellbeing, energy efficiency and recycling, that we’re paying team members fairly and making a positive difference locally – and that they can get the data if they need it.

Down the track, I believe there’ll be more interest from businesses in how their landlords act – whether they’re looking to lease new space or are long-term occupiers. I look forward to this and encourage our occupiers to talk to us about how we can support them.


To find out more, contact sustainability@britishland.com or visit: www.britishland.com/sustainability

To view Jeremy and Sarah’s full blogs on non-financial reporting, go to www.britishland.com/sustainability/blogs

Tagged in: DATA, ENERGY EFFICIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY, TALENT, WELLBEING

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