17 Nov The Ethical Property Company: October 2015 Happy Hour with Susan Ralphs, Managing Director of The Ethical Property Company
Finance Matters was pleased to welcome Susan Ralphs, Managing Director of The Ethical Property Company to our October Happy Hour at the Borough Barista. The discussion was an interesting overview of Susan‘s experiences in the sustainable real estate sector with the Ethical Property Company, and an understanding of what defines a triple bottom line company.
As a way of background, Susan became Managing Director of Ethical Property in 2011 after four years as their Finance Director. A qualified Chartered Accountant, she previously worked for Oxfam, before moving on to the role of Finance Director at YWCA England and Wales in 1995. The Ethical Property Company is a leading social business that owns, develops and manages commercial property for use by charities, social enterprises, community organisations and campaign groups effecting social change. In 2014, the company provided space to over 1000 organisations in 24 centres across 8 cities in the UK. It is supported by over 1,350 shareholders, many individuals as well as key institutions who are committed to social change and community development.
Susan started the discussion by underlining the Ethical Property Company’s social impact, as well as how it manages to preserve this. She explained that the company operates based on a set of values called the Quintessentials, which is similar to a B corporation criteria, and on an ethical client criteria; thus only companies meeting certain criteria can be accepted as tenants of the building. For example, these include ethical management, synergy encouragement, suitability with other organisations within the building, ethical governance, among other factors. In the process, Susan mentioned that there is a need from the company to be pragmatic in its approach, although there are certain companies that they have had to rule out in the process.
The Ethical Property Company is defined as a triple-bottom line company and places a strong importance on its environmental performance through certain factors, from example from aiming to reduce its carbon footprint on a yearly basis. More importantly, Susan explained that the company designs its building to be as environmentally-friendly as possible, all the while staying affordable, through diverse initiatives from contracting green energy suppliers, to encouraging the use of cycling alternatives and public transportation to tenants of the building (i.e increased bike racks and fewer parking spaces). The company’s latest development, The Foundry, was just named RIBA’s London Building of the Year and combines diverse organisations based in London in the social impact sector, from criminal justice to social housing organisations.
To conclude, Susan underlined that there is potential for social impact in the property sector. For example, The Ethical Property Foundation was set up as a sister company that aims to provide support for smaller charities in need of advice on their leases. Additionally, the company launched the Fair Place awards which showcases a list of buildings that meet a set of requirements, from ethical management and governance to environmentally-friendly initiatives.