It is been remarkable to watch how the responses from different organisations across a variety of sectors have differed. What is clear though is that the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated several longer terms trends – increased use of technology, more flexible working etc.
But perhaps the most important longer-term trend which has been accelerated, is the shift of focus from profit, to purpose.
Looking across sectors, there are some standout examples of organisations that have used their purpose to galvanise their efforts over the last few months leading to a real positive impact on the customers and communities they serve (think breweries shifting production to alcohol gel, fashion designers producing PPE, supermarkets ensuring the most vulnerable in society could access food etc.).
This shift is recognised by consumers and employees alike, with a recent survey suggesting that 64% of millennials would not work for an organisation that did not have a clear approach to social / climate impact.
Over the medium and longer term the most successful organisations in the commercial sector will be those who are best able to demonstrate their positive impact on society. It will be about more than turning a decent profit.
The housing sector holds a unique place in society, and perhaps one of the best placed to make a positive impact on individuals, communities, and society as whole. So how should board, executives and other senior leaders in the sector utilise their purpose to drive positive change and enable a stronger organisation to emerge from the crisis?
- Focus on the long-term – it is understandable that many board and executive teams will have been deeply involved in crisis planning activities in recent months, but the role of the board in particular should be to keep a focus on the longer term. It is also appropriate to review current strategies and ensure that post the crisis, they will remain fit for purpose and will enable the organisation to have the most positive impact.
- Support and collaborate with others – nothing can be achieved in isolation and the successful delivery of any strategy will require close working with a range of stakeholders. For RPs this of course includes LA and developers, but also wider parts of the supply chain and partners. Many of whom will be small and less resilient organisations, deeply rooted in local communities who may need support to survive.
- Keep communications strong with all stakeholders – this includes customers and other stakeholders. But staff communications are also critical, Now more than ever absolute clarity is required on policies and plans, with a focus on building trust with staff and where possible, removing fear.
- Live the purpose and values – it’s a cliched term, but those organisations that have had the most positive impact in recent months, have also invested significantly in ensuring that their organisation culture is closely and genuinely aligned to their stated purpose and values.
The housing sector is at a significant advantage to other sectors in being able to articulate and present a positive and impactful purpose. This current period provides a significant opportunity for organisations to review their purpose to ensure that they remain fit for purpose post this crisis. But then leverage that purpose to drive change through the organisation.