COMMUNITIES CASE STUDY: A joint venture with a difference »

In Australia, Indigenous people make up 3% of the population, yet only fewer than half of working Indigenous people have jobs. In 2015 JLL and Pacific Services Group Holdings (PSGH) entered into a joint venture to form ‘Evolve FM’, the only Indigenous facilities management (FM) company in Australia. This partnership has been forged to create a commercial framework that will enable the delivery of social initiatives that positively change the lives of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.

Evolve FM aims to partner with and foster Indigenous enterprise, hiring and supporting Indigenous Australians and businesses. The company encourages growth, development and engagement in the FM sector, and more broadly, across the community. The joint venture has a target of a minimum of 10% Indigenous employment, five times the industry average.

John Owens, CEO of Evolve FM said, “Indigenous business has never had a proper place in corporate Australia. We believe in the role that well-managed, commercially competitive Indigenous-owned businesses can play in the advancement of Indigenous people in Australia. PSGH has been awarded major contracts with the Australian Tax Office, the Department of Defence and the Department of Finance. The DoF is providing benefits to Indigenous communities by providing financial independence and stability as well as many significant social benefits.”

PSGH is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous-owned companies employing 58 staff nationally. It was founded in 2011 by cousins Shane Jacobs and Troy Rugless, who are descendants of the Wiradjuri Nation. They both grew up in Sydney with strong ties to the La Perouse community and are members of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Troy explains: “My cousin Shane and I started PSGH to target tier 1 contracts with federal government agencies and top corporate sector companies. One of the benefits we provide for Indigenous people is financial stability and independence. The national average of Indigenous employment sits at 1.2%, and our business sits at 15%. We’ve had to be good; we’ve had to be better than everyone else. Having JLL as a big brother—a Fortune 500 company with the right processes, the right systems—it’s probably fast-tracked PSGH by ten to fifteen years.”

JLL’s Australian Head of Government Business, Steve Mackintosh said: “We believe that by leveraging the Indigenous supply chain, Evolve FM will more broadly and positively impact Indigenous Australians by helping to create financial independence. History tells us that Indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to employ Indigenous people than non-Indigenous businesses. Every Australian dollar spent by government departments generates more than four dollars of value in Indigenous communities.”

Effective from 1 July 2015, the Australian Government has implemented a series of measures designed to improve engagement of Indigenous businesses. For the 2015/16 financial year, the government has mandated 0.5% of all government external expenditure must be spent with Indigenous businesses, increasing incrementally each year to become 3% by 2019/20.

Steve continued: “Current government spending with Indigenous business today is very small; around 0.008%. We believe we can help the government reach its targets and build a sustainable business at the same time.”

In April 2016, Evolve FM won their first client, Indigenous Business Australia for a three year facilities management contract.

Chris Kirby, COO of Supply Nation, an organization that was founded to promote and facilitate sustainable supplier diversity within the Australian market, commented on Evolve FM: “We see this as a really great example of how the Indigenous business sector is maturing and that’s really exciting for everyone involved. It builds the capability of the Indigenous business and it also builds the capability of the procuring organization.”

Troy reflects: “For all the bad that’s happened, things are finally swinging in favor of Indigenous people. Opportunity, that’s all that any Aboriginal person wants; the same level of opportunity as everyone else.”

For our business to thrive, our communities need to thrive. It is for this reason that we work hard to be a responsible corporate citizen where we live and work.

Supporting our communities
For our business to thrive, our communities need to thrive. It is for this reason that we work hard to be a responsible corporate citizen where we live and work. We endeavor to create shared value by forging global and local charitable partnerships, offering our real estate expertise voluntarily to those in need, and giving our people time to contribute personally to the issues that mean the most to them—this in turn, increases their engagement and loyalty to JLL. We also work to minimize the sustainability impacts of our supply chains and procurement practices, further extending JLL’s influence into communities more broadly.

Our business activities impact on these communities, whether through the employment opportunities we create, our engagement with our supplier base, or the advice we provide to clients on the interactions they have with their own communities. We aim to support the needs of these communities by mobilizing the talents and experience of our workforce through voluntary work, donations or other benefits in kind.

At JLL, activities in our communities are largely carried out a local level. This decentralized approach allows for flexibility and agility in the way we engage communities by giving our local operations the autonomy to tackle the issues that they see as priorities and to reflect the wishes and interests of employees. We are, however, currently considering options around a global community partnership that will complement our local efforts. In some locations we have seen an increase in appetite for undertaking more pro bono and skilled volunteering work among our employees.

Investing in the community
The level of investment into the community that we have made in funds and time, as well as other benefits in kind, provides a good indication our how well we are contributing in this area. In 2015, JLL recorded total charitable contributions of $5.3 million from both corporate and employee donations. Our corporate donations of $4.6 million are equivalent to 0.8% of our pre-tax profits, compared to the London Benchmarking Group’s benchmark of 1.1%. Furthermore, our employees volunteered more than 5,533 days of their time to support charitable causes, a 21% increase compared to 2014. When compared against the average salary for a JLL employee in the U.S., this volunteering contribution equates to a cost to the business of approximately $1.9 million.

It is challenging for us to fully understand the positive impact of volunteering activities and charitable contributions undertaken across the firm. In future, we will work to engage with our local operations to better understand the difference that these activities are making to our communities. We believe that at present the figures below underestimate the positive impacts we make on our communities.

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