by Sara Heald, Head of CSR, Legal & General Group
Any successful businesses owes it to its customers and the planet to act sustainably. And sustainability is a crucial element for Legal & General, a financial services group which manages around £1 trillion of investments and looks after the financial security of millions of people. We know that because of our size and influence we can make a real difference towards, for example, the UN achieving many of its 17 sustainable development goals.
We are major investors in most of the biggest public companies in the developed world, and many companies in emerging markets. That gives us influence in the behaviour of the boards of these companies, and the opportunity to encourage them to act responsibly in areas such as action on climate change and gender equality.
We also have a clear responsibility to invest our funds in a sustainable way that benefits people across society. This means that goals such as generating decent work and economic growth, renewing infrastructure and communities and reducing financial inequality are at the heart of our business strategy.
Taking action on climate change is one of our four key sustainability goals. As well as ensuring that the companies we invest in take carbon reduction seriously, we have also set ourselves challenging goals to reduce our own carbon footprint. We can also make a real impact in how we invest money to improve society. We are playing a part in urban regeneration, ensuring that communities can thrive in a sustainable way, with better transport links and cleaner energy sources. Our homebuilding schemes must meet rigorous standards to ensure that every new home uses environmentally sound building materials and helps its inhabitants lead a fully sustainable lifestyle.
The right to live in a decent home and have a decent job that contributes to the good of society is fundamental. We have directly invested more than £19 billion in urban regeneration, housing, clean energy and supporting small businesses at the heart of job creation. We have focused many of our housing developments on affordable homes and homes to rent, aiming to benefit people who have found it difficult to purchase new homes.
Supporting the development of clean energy to eliminate the use of fossil fuels is one of our major investment goals. We have helped finance both offshore and onshore wind generation schemes and have also invested in solar energy plants.
We know that an increasing number of people want to save their money in sustainable funds that invest in companies that that are environmentally responsible. We have developed our Future World range of funds where investments are held in those companies that have sustainable environmental policies and have developed low-carbon solutions. We avoid investing in companies that benefit from carbon fuels that are contributing to global warming. Our Future World Advisory Board oversees its development, being responsible for monitoring climate change and the energy transition trends, amongst other responsibilities
As a financial services provider we are dedicated to improving the financial resilience of people throughout society and ending financial exclusion where the poorest do not have access to decent pensions, a basic level of savings and insurance against unforeseen events. This means that we work closely with governments to ensure that financial services products are accessible through price and distribution to people in the widest wealth groups.
We are proud that sustainability is so important in our own strategy. But greater than that is the chance to change the attitudes of our industry, influence governments and inspire other people to invest sustainably to improve everyone’s future.
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