Creating "shared value" with society
At the Shared Value Summit in New York City, Executive Vice President Richard Kennedy discussed how the built environment can generate value both for business and society. Here, Richard further describes some of Skanska’s work in delivering Profit with Purpose, and invites other leading businesses to join this important journey.
I'm proud to be part of Skanska, with our focus on achieving our Profit with Purpose strategy. We work hard every day to earn profit, and we want the subways, roadways, bridges, hospitals, schools, offices, homes and much more that we develop and build – and the innovative and sustainable ways in which we create them – to contribute to a better society.
We deliver Profit with Purpose in amazing ways and with some fantastic partners.
For example, for 21 years our BoKlok partnership with IKEA has produced homes in the Nordics that are stylish, well-built and, most of all, affordable. Under the philosophy that everyone should have the same opportunity to live well, BoKlok has provided many people with the opportunity of homeownership. Key to BoKlok’s ability to offer low prices are standardized designs and highly efficient industrialized manufacturing methods. Through this, BoKlok goes beyond social benefits to deliver attractive financial returns and lower environmental impacts, producing positive contributions in many ways.
Strengthening organizations and people
In the US, companies owned by women and other historically underrepresented groups face social and economic challenges competing for business. Our Construction Management Building Blocks program provides training that helps them build stronger businesses.
In fact, since 2006 in just the New York City metro area, through this program we’ve worked with more than 350 companies owned by women or ethnic/racial minorities, providing some 9,500 hours of training to help them compete for major contracts. By providing support and education, we also bolster our supply chain, improving our ability to be competitive.
And throughout our 41,000-person organization, we’re diversifying our workforce and strengthening inclusive practices. We want the best people working for us in a culture in which everyone has the opportunity to bring the best of themselves and achieve their full potential. This is essential for us to represent the many communities in which we live, work and build, and to foster the innovation we need to succeed.
On the Shared Value Summit stage
The link between business and society is very important to me, and to Skanska. I recently participated in the Shared Value Summit in New York City. As you may know, creating "shared value" is a commitment through which companies align their business approaches in ways that address social problems – much like Profit with Purpose. I shared the stage with Katie Beirne Fallon, Hilton Worldwide's Head of Global Corporate Affairs, and moderator Max Young from 100 Resilient Cities.
Together we discussed business opportunities connected to the built environment that generate value for both business and society. I felt great pride discussing how building for a better society is Skanska’s core business and central to the values we all share.
Demonstrated successes needed to inspire others
As the packed hall in New York helped show, interest in creating shared value is growing. Skanska has strong competencies and natural advantages in this movement, and the ability to lead. Leadership in this area requires strong demonstrations of experience and "proof points" that show return on investment.
For example, we believe deeply that green buildings and civil infrastructure are good for people, business and our planet. (Skanska's definition of green focuses on carbon, energy, materials and water.) Last year, 44 percent of our total construction revenue came from green projects, reaching as high as 75 percent in our UK unit. While our customers increasingly have their own ambitious green and carbon targets, we strive to show them how higher levels of green performance can bring added financial and societal benefits.
We're able to be our own example, as we invest in what we believe: 94 percent of the infrastructure and commercial properties we develop are green. When divesting our commercial office developments in particular, it's quite clear that a top-level green certification adds considerable financial value, reflecting our commitment to creating high-quality buildings that make positive contributions to local communities.
Join the journey
I see shared value as a journey: for Skanska, and many companies. To succeed, businesses need to stay focused, build strong partnerships to leverage diverse expertise, and have more common ways of measuring progress.
It’s exciting to be part of this. I hope you’ll join us on this important journey.