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Can ethics come as standard?

14 July 2011

BIFM is backing an initiative to develop a standard for “ethical workplaces”. The Institute is an early supporter of the Ethical Workplaces Project, led by the Ethical Property Foundation.

The project is a network of NGOs, academics and sustainability thinkers who are all inspired by the idea that you can change the world when you go to work, if you work in a place that helps people, the community and the planet.

The project will create a quality mark to promote good practice, produce education materials and campaign to create an encouraging political and business environment.

Dimensions of the standard are likely to include People (employment, user experience etc.); Planet (energy, transport, water, waste); Community (Social, contribution, procurement etc.) and Landlord/Tenant Relations (lease, service charge etc.).

The Ethical Property Foundation aims to develop, promote and facilitate best practice on social and environmental issues in the commercial property sector. In exploring what an ‘ethical workplace' really means, the Foundation conducted a survey through Kingston University two years ago and based on this report is working on how it can ensure that the practices of some of the most forward-thinking organisations become the norm.

According to the Foundation, some of the questions that will be asked of companies claiming ethical credentials are:

• Does a landlord manage their properties in an environmentally sound manner?
• Is the lease fairly balanced between landlord and tenant?
• Does a landlord avoid letting to arms, tobacco or pornography companies?
• Do they purchase ethical services to ensure, for instance, that cleaners are paid a fair wage?
• Do tenants strive to reduce waste and energy use? Is this matched by the attitude of their landlord towards investing in energy efficiency improving technologies?
• Does a developer build to high environmental standards?
• Are they fair in their treatment of the local community and on the delivery of planning obligations (section 106 agreements)?
• Do they consider the social impact of their property eg. provision for people with disabilities, investment in poorer communities, provision of high quality open space?
• Do property companies manage their own operations to minimise environmental and social impacts?

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