EG invests in and develops real estate on behalf of institutional investors, outperforming the market to produce outstanding returns. Property is Australia’s single biggest industry, contributing over $180 billion annually to Global Domestic Product and presenting a key opportunity to set the bar for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) achievements across industries. EG has established lasting relationships with charity partners each year since inception, 20 years ago. Many of these relationships were forged when individual staff shared the not-for-profit organisations they were most passionate about. EG donated to 15 charities in the financial year 2019-20: six long term relationships and nine EG staff nominated causes. While the company were pleased with this, EG wanted to integrate CSR further into the fabric of their company values; creating an opportunity for staff to get involved, connect to a greater purpose and one another in the process.
In 2019, they turned their attention to broader issues facing society to try and discover a meaningful initiative that resonated with both the local community and EG’s stakeholders and staff. The greatest challenge came in focusing on their own industry; real estate. With more than 100,000 Australians finding themselves without a home on any given day, EG had an opportunity to use their platform to raise awareness for this issue. Impassioned by the privileges they had taken for granted in a sector they loved, EG staff turned their attention to supporting the homeless.
In enacting a positive focus on CSR, EG wanted to find an initiative that would empower staff and advance their culture. The approach required an event that would directly engage staff with community stakeholders; fostering relationships and gratitude more powerfully than any single financial contribution could. In drawing on expertise from a national homeless outreach not-for-profit, Youth Off The Streets, EG also sought to improve transparency and social accountability with any funds raised. The event had to be accessible financially, as well as being physically accessible to every staff member.
The Event: Inspired by the ‘Breaking History’ program by 2012 World Champion Public Speaker, Ryan Avery, EG was inspired to break a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD and use the platform to raise awareness for homelessness. The idea to form the largest human image of a house was born, and the location set in a newly completed residential development by EG in Sydney’s Inner West. This place was significant, not only because EG developed the site, or that the Inner West Council Area has recorded over 2,000 people without a home in the area, but also because many EG staff live in the area – spurring on an important involvement in their local community.
Staff Involvement: A committee of staff volunteered to lend their expertise to the event, in addition to managing their core roles. From the construction manager to the marketing intern, 30% of all staff offered direct contributions to planning, organisation and logistics. Beyond this committee, each staff member became invested in the initiative, acting as advocates in the local community and within their networks as they invited friends and family to help break the record. Though the event was not compulsory, EG was quickly encouraged to see staff embracing the approach and realising the cultural implications of social responsibility.
Overcoming Challenges: Over the span of twelve months’ planning, the committee had to liaise with a number of external stakeholders, including Youth Off the Streets, event sponsors, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS officials and a team of community volunteers assisting with on-ground logistics. This presented several challenges in communications that required extensive teamwork by EG liaisons to overcome. Six months into the planning, the record, previously set at 356 people, was broken and increased by 787 people. This spurred on the EG team and the volunteers at Youth Off the Streets to set a higher, more daunting goal for themselves, increasing the marketing and extending sponsor opportunities. Pre-registration for the event proved more difficult than anticipated. This meant staff had to band together in a number of ‘hands-on’ strategies including handing out flyers at train stations, letterbox drops and making calls.
Execution Of Event: On 29th February, 2020, the World Record Attempt was held. The event supported Youth Off The Streets and several local businesses with food trucks, jumping castles, face painting and music on site. Hundreds of community members attended the festival day with vital awareness raised for such a prevalent issue stigmatised in society.
EG were unsuccessful in breaking the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORD, falling short of their goal by just 125 people, however, to date, it has been their most successful Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. 622 participants rallied together to attempt the World Record and 87.5% of EG staff attended the event. Those unable to attend sent words of encouragement and support. 1 in 5 of all participants who registered for the event were guests of EG staff, including friends or family members, demonstrating a high level of engagement. EG staff have been struck by the powerful impact of the initiative, touching their hearts and minds and inspiring further social responsibility initiatives.
In terms of the Return On Investment $100,000 was presented to Youth Off the Streets derived from the local community, sponsorships and EG contributions. The event boosted the reach and engagement of all Youth Off The Streets social media channels and saw above average performance of posts as well as a growth in the follower database. Media coverage on News.com.au reached 15 million Australians. The story was syndicated by 10 different media outlets and shared to Facebook 567 times. In the words of CEO Adam Geha “A huge effort by our team here and an AMAZING community sprint today. Let’s break the record in 2021. EG’s resilience is the secret to our success and this is yet another example”. The event was such a positive experience for all involved that EG has indeed committed to reattempting the record in the future!