Our environment, our societies and strong governance of public companies are not ‘nice to haves’, they are all fundamental to a shared, sustainable and progressive way of life. At over 185 years old, Legal & General have always taken this long-term view. Our purpose is to do the right things for our customers, create a better society for the long term and create value for our shareholders. This shapes how we work and helps us create our vision of ‘inclusive capitalism’. Ultimately, using money and investment as a force for good in society.
Even though our society is living through a global pandemic, we must still work together to push down emissions, create better places to live, and build stronger communities. So, in a time of great need and opportunity, where do our priorities lie?
We know we’re going to have to invest more, including in real assets, cities and housing. We have to make that more climate friendly. As a business we have gone from the traditional life business to an organisation that is one of the largest house builders in the UK, encompassing everything from build-to-sell, rental properties, affordable housing and later-life living.
We believe we have an enormous role to play in the years ahead. Not only in building back from the fallout of COVID-19 but in accelerating progress towards the UK’s ambitious climate targets. To us this means an investment-led recovery. We at Legal & General manage over £1.2 trillion in assets, extending a broad reach across society that we believe can be used to tackle social issues and reach climate targets.
An example of Legal & General’s investment-led recovery strategy is our strengthened partnership with Croydon Council. As part of our determination to tackle the UK’s chronic housing crisis, we have made an additional investment to provide 250 extra homes, giving much-needed stability for some of the most vulnerable people in society. This is a great demonstration of our purpose to deliver inclusive capitalism, developing a structure which supports our long-term pension commitments whilst improving lives and helping to create further savings for the council to reinvest.
Furthermore, in September, we announced a £5m charitable partnership with Newcastle City Council to enhance elderly care in the city, placing Newcastle at the forefront of development of ground-breaking changes to the way we care for older people. We have also launched nation-wide community projects like SE-Assist offering interest free soft loans to social enterprises, supporting the creation of jobs. Off the back of this we have a new project we call Retail with Purpose – aimed at bringing life back into the high street after the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Alongside our commitment to communities is our commitment to the climate. Our net zero strategy entails investing in clean, green and cheap energy supplies. We have a strong record in supporting the development of clean energies that can help to meet environmental targets. We have invested in renewable wind and solar power generation and in innovative technologies to control, manage and store energy.
Legal & General have a firm commitment to make all our homes operationally Net Zero by 2030 and to address issues like housing retrofit. We are building back better so our cities are environmentally, socially and economically positive. To embed and accelerate this progress across our sector we need a baseline of ambitious policies upon which businesses can build sustainable strategies. Fighting the climate crisis will require trillions of dollars of new investment and the corporate sector must play its proper part and commit to taking action today.
Sara Heald is Head of CSR at Legal & General. As Head of CSR, Sara’s role is to be the “conscience” of the organisation in the way that it campaigns for social, environmental and economic issues material to its businesses. She works with charities to help L&G solve long term issues that really matter. Sara is the driver for the Modern Slavery Strategy and looks after employee engagement programmes for the group, including L&G’s social enterprise and education programmes.