Sustainability Gets a Seat At the Table

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Guest contributor Mark Ohringer, JLL’s General Counsel, discusses the importance of corporate sustainability and social responsibility. 

When I attend external conferences, I am often asked by my peers about the size of our sustainability teams. To be sure, investing in a sustainability function through dedicated staff signals a company’s commitment to acting as a good corporate citizen, reducing environmental impacts and focusing on well-being and people. A comprehensive ethics program also reinforces the organization’s commitment to sustainability.

Sustainability

Against these metrics, JLL fares well. We have more than 200 full-time employees working in some area of sustainability services, investment and operations throughout JLL as disclosed in our latest Global Sustainability Report. We have also received significant recognition for our ethics program, including being recognized as one of the world’s most ethical companies for the eighth consecutive year.

But these measures alone are only a couple of ways to move the sustainability needle. To truly integrate sustainability into the fabric of our business, we needed to align it with our governance structures – in essence, to promote sustainability to the C-suite. In 2014, we established a Global Corporate Sustainability (GCS) Board, which functions at the same level as other management groups in terms of influence, authority and leadership.

The GCS Board oversees internal sustainability goals, performance, strategy and reporting, while also ensuring a coordinated and consistent approach around the world. It includes corporate function leaders from Finance, Human Resources, Legal Services and Corporate Sustainability. In addition, members also represent leadership from Communications, Public Relations, LaSalle Investment Management and Energy and Sustainability Services. This cross-functional group reports into the Global Operating Board, which includes a wider representation of corporate function leaders including our Chief Financial Officer (who also sits on the GCS Board), regional and business segment Chief Operating Officers among others such as IT, Procurement and Risk leaders.

Sustainability clearly took a seat at our executive table when CEO Colin Dyer proactively formalized his role as the Executive Sustainability Sponsor in 2014. Colin represents all of our sustainability activities with our Global Executive Board and Board of Directors.

Promoting sustainability at the highest levels in an organization makes good business sense, as was reinforced by a Harvard Business Review article touting this idea as an emerging best practice for companies serious about sustainability.

We’re in good company on this front. Are you?

 

Ohringer HeadshotMark Ohringer is JLL’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. He oversees the firm’s legal, compliance, ethics, and insurance programs on a global basis. In 2011, Ohringer was named by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics.” For Ohringer’s full bio, please click here

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