Representation and Corporate Leadership
The challenges of redeveloping and reconfiguring the economy of such a large area requires business to take a leadership role. Since the project started in 1987, Canary Wharf Group and the original developer Olympic and York promoted new infrastructure, along with changes to the planning and economic policies of London and the UK.
Perhaps inevitably, tenant companies moving to the Canary Wharf estate, particularly from the square mile, have increasingly looked to Canary Wharf Group to help represent their interests and to stand alongside them when making their case to local, regional, national and sometimes even international governments.
Where appropriate, Canary Wharf Group has been prepared to take on this role. For example during the late 2000s the company became a major sponsor of the financial services sector organisation International Financial Services London, and then helping the organisation merge into the powerful new body CityUK.
We are passionate and unapologetic cheerleaders for London as a destination for inward investment – after all Canary Wharf itself was the product of overseas investors and visionaries. We have been represented on the board of London’s inward investment agency Think London and the agency for the local London Thames Gateway area Gateway to London.
As responsible property developers we have played a full role in the organisations representing our industry and other businesses in London. We are active members of London First, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Docklands Business Club, Visit London, the Confederation of British Industry, the British American Chamber of Commerce and the Town and Country Planning Association. We have also been members of the British Property Federation.
As part of our commitment to sustainable development, we are founder members of the UK Green Building Council and the London Mayor’s Better Buildings Partnership where we are working with other developers to continuously improve our environmental performance. This work has led to us being named as one of the Sunday Times’ Leading Green Companies in each year of the survey so far – ahead of almost all other companies in our sector.
Health and Safety is of paramount importance, particularly to our construction company Canary Wharf Contractors Limited and our management company Canary Wharf Management Limited. We are proud to have won Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents Gold awards for the last three years on our major projects.
We have also promoted new transport links to east London, playing a crucial role in the design, promotion and funding of the Crossrail project, and a supportive and campaigning role in the new East London Line Extension. Together with our engagement on the upgrade to the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line, these transport improvements are already making a huge difference to the connectivity and transport capacity of our surrounding neighbourhoods. Our tenants and the local community are kept regularly informed of progress and work on transport links via the Canary Wharf Transport Forum.
In all these organisations, Canary Wharf Group has been an active member or partner represented by a senior director from the company and usually at Board level in the organisation. Our policy has been that we will only join an organisation if we can have a real impact and be of significant benefit.
Perhaps of equal importance to our formal representational roles is our work in partnership with other businesses and groups. For some years we have been informally working in partnership with other major economic players in east London including the London 2012 Olympics and the Olympic Park Legacy Company, City Airport, the O2 owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, Maritime Greenwich, Greenwich University and the Royal Naval College, and the Excel exhibition centre. This engagement helps keep us in touch with what is happening around us and also enables us to jointly promote activity to our tenants such as the International Convention Centre based at Excel and the London City to New York flight operated by BA.
We are proud of our location in the Thames Gateway and work closely with local bodies such as the Thames Gateway London Partnership, which represents the local authorities of the sub-region. We have sponsored joint events and joint programmes of research to make sure that the business community and the representatives of local people present a common set of objectives when making the case for further investment in our part of London.
For details of our strategic partnerships with local social regeneration agency East London Business Alliance, charitable foundation EECF and with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, see the sections on economic development and community engagement.
Canary Wharf Group is “just a property company”. But given our unique and strategically vital role as the custodian and nurturer of the new economic motor for east London, we have stepped up when required to take a leading position and rally others to important causes.
Corporate Charitable Activity
Canary Wharf Group plays a leading role in the organisations which represent and promote business in London and the UK. Among the bodies of which we are active members are:
- London First
- Confederation of British Industry
- The British Property Federation
- The Docklands Business Club
- London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Think London
- Gateway to London
- International Financial Services London
- The Town and Country Planning Association
- The British Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Business In The Community
- The Architecture Foundation
Locally we are represented in the East London Business Alliance, one of our main partners in delivering economic development and employment programmes, as well as on the Tower Hamlets Partnership and the Tower Hamlets Business Forum.
We have provided corporate sponsorship for several London charities close to our work in regeneration, including a five year programme of support for the Heritage of London Trust, which works to restore and protect historic structures, and an ongoing programme of support for the Museum of London Docklands, based just across the dock from us at West India Quay.
In recent years we have supported events and programmes for the national youth charity UK Youth, the London Festival of Architecture, the National Youth Theatre, and the Jewish Association of Business Ethics.
Our biggest charitable event each year is the annual British Heart Foundation Canary Wharf Jog, involving more than 1,000 fun-runners, raising over £100,000 for this worthy cause.
When space has become available on a temporary basis, we have been able to offer rent-free accommodation within Canary Wharf for charities. Over the last few years this has included Teach First, which encourages high flying graduates to spend two years teaching before going on to corporate jobs, Medicins du Monde, the international medical assistance charity and Article 25, an architectural charity which designs, builds, and manages projects to areas hit by disaster, poverty, or need.
Canary Wharf Film Fund
Canary Wharf’s top-quality architecture, iconic office buildings, retail malls and landscaped open areas make it a popular location for filming and professional photography. Feature films such as 28 Weeks Later, The World is not Enough and Batman Begins and TV programmes Doctor Who, Hustle and The Apprentice have all been filmed in Canary Wharf.
Instead of charging a location fee for professional filming and photography, Canary Wharf Group asks crews to make a donation, half of which goes to the Canary Wharf Film Fund (CWFF), and the other half going to local charities. The CWFF fosters film making and media in the local community, investing in equipment, training and projects that encourage young people to acquire the passion and skills that may eventually see them employed in the growing media sector in Canary Wharf and East London. It also allows the local community to directly benefit from such activity happening in their neighbourhood.
Projects recently funded by CWFF include digital video equipment for local schools and a summer training programme to introduce young people to film-making.
Canary Wharf Group actively encourages its employees to take part in voluntary work, both in organised work time activity and in their spare time. Each staff member is entitled to two days of volunteering every year and in 2015, CWG staff spent 1,156 hours in pro-bono projects in the community.
From sponsored bike rides, to jogs, to helping out in local community projects, all levels and departments of the company have been involved.
George Iacobescu, Chief Executive is himself a Trustee of the British Museum and was founding co-Chair of charity Teach First. George was presented with a special award by Teach First in 2010 for his work helping to set up this very successful educational project.
Our senior directors volunteer as trustees and board members of such wide-ranging organisations as the Rugby Football Union and Business Action on Homelessness.
Gay Harrington, Social and Economic Development Manager, is one of the many Canary Wharf Group employees who acts as a School Governor. Gay is in fact the Chair of Governors of both Newham Victoria Sixth Form College and a local Tower Hamlets primary school. She was honoured for her dedication and the achievement of these two schools by being awarded London Regional School Governor of the Year and being shortlisted for National School Governor of the Year.
In recent years the Company has begun an active programme promoting corporate volunteering to staff, working in particular with Business in the Community. We have taken part in BITC’s “Give and Gain Day” – a national day of corporate volunteering.
Another popular activity is working with the East End Community Foundation (EECF) to fill and deliver Christmas gift bags to older residents around Canary Wharf. For many of these older people these bags will be the only presents they get – and for some the visit of an enthusiastic Canary Wharf Group volunteer the only visit they will have over Christmas.
Perhaps the most in-depth voluntary activity is done during business hours where staff members have agreed to be the supervisor of a work experience placement. These placements, totalling more than 60 each year across the company include secondary school students from local schools, local graduates and undergraduates, and homeless people getting back into mainstream employment through Business Action on Homelessness.
Not only is it quite hard work looking after a relatively inexperienced new colleague for a short time, often staff will choose to have an ongoing relationship with the work experience person, mentoring them after their placement. Many of our work experience colleagues have later returned to us as full time staff members – a huge tribute to the hard work of their supervisors making them feel welcome, and helping make the placement a genuinely useful and positive experience.