Social value means many things, to many people. As it relates to our work in commercial real estate, Avison Young has made a pledge to value people in places above all else.
From recruiting a diverse workforce and developing critical industry expertise and offerings, to working within our communities to bolster stronger relationships with those around us and drive positive change forward, our aim is true: we show up to benefit those around us.
We know even small steps of positive change can lead to big impact and there’s so much opportunity in everything we do, who we work with and how we conduct ourselves day-to-day, that gives us space to be the change we want to see in the world -- one step, one project at a time.
In many ways this is nothing new, Avison Young has long been a culture-driven workplace, where we take pride in what we do for our business, our communities, and each other. But these days, we are looking for more opportunities to build on what we’ve started to help our communities live even more vibrant lives through dynamic and purposeful design and delivery of places that put the needs of people and community at the heart of it all.
It’s driven by the work we complete for our clients, and it starts with the culture we establish and lead from in our daily operations.
From Day of Giving to change driven by the next generation of CRE leaders
Each year, all our employees participate in our Annual Day of Giving. It’s one of the biggest ways we get involved in our communities and give back to them annually. From local charities and food banks to community revitalization and cleanup programs, we take pride in making even a small difference globally. It’s programs like these that allow us to become more engrained in the spaces and places our families, friends, and neighbors thrive in, the current landscapes and the opportunities to improve beyond one singular day.
One concept that arose through this work was a strong desire from our colleagues to take a more active role in educating future leaders on business strategies relating to social value, or more importantly, how to integrate social value offerings in each of our service lines to provide more benefit to all of our clients.
“Our executive committee met to identify key areas of opportunity for our company. One of them being social value - this was presented to our Leadership Pathways team to identify potential areas of growth.” Sheliza Dharshi, Principal, Director, Calgary Operations and Leadership Pathways Facilitator.
The Leadership Pathways program, a year-long program, targeted high-performing employees at Avison Young and consisted of many groups, with one set to tackle social value as a CRE concept. The group of young leaders were accompanied by a facilitator to guide them on present challenges and key areas of focus for the business moving forward, with a goal to provide strategical counsel on how Avison Young can help deliver more social value for clients.
Delivering social value and community work through meaningful action
Through careful study of our global business, interviews with service line leaders, management, and surveying employees about their knowledge in the social value space, a key problem became clear. Within our organization a baseline understanding of the benefits of socially tuned communities was well understood, but the details on how to enact such a service were unclear to the broader employee group.
"We knew we had to start at the ground floor."
“We knew we had to start at the ground floor,” says Aram Stamboulian, Senior Marketing Manager, Canada at Avison Young and Leadership Pathways Participant. “Our data showed that our wider employee base agreed that social value tuned communities are great to foster collaboration, inclusivity, opportunity and safety, but we needed to provide a communication plan to better educate our people on how to get there."
From their findings, the group proposed a plan to bolster our social-tuned service-line offerings. First and foremost, an internal communication plan where socially aligned projects could be shared, studied, and celebrated across service lines to gain a better understanding of true impactful outcomes and the steps taken to get there to boost social value competency across our organization and provide a baseline of knowledge to better service and understand client needs. The findings presented by these groups have been made available on our global shared resource centre for interested employees to watch, and potentially group together and further action.
Turning action into opportunity
It’s clear our different global geographies are at different levels of sophistication (and local laws) when it comes to social value. But providing a framework and examples to our people to better understand the value of delivering places and spaces to benefit the wellbeing of people, and the steps taken to get there, is a great starting point toward more concrete alignment in the future.
We’re sharing our learnings so far in this issue so everyone can start running from the same place. It's about collaboration, not competition, or comparison. It’s what do we collectively know now, and where can we help each other go from here for the betterment of us all.
Mark Fieder Principal, President, Avison Young Canada