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Antonia Swinson is CEO of the Ethical Property Foundation
Antonia Swinson, CEO (Ethical Property Foundation)

4 December 2017 | Antonia Swinson

Antonia Swinson, CEO of Ethical Property Foundation, discusses how ethical values in action build trust.

In last month’s Think Tank Bartlett Mitchell CEO Ian Thomas wrote that ethical behaviour isn’t a question of ’marketing-friendly messages but “aids the bottom line”.

The challenge is proving your company’s ethics to investors, staff and clients. As an ex-business journalist, I have long thought it is FMs who have the breadth of expertise to turn ethics into reality, and play a far more central role than they usually do, in business development and communication. 

Ethical values seen in action build trust, that most vital, invisible currency. Without trust, businesses run far higher reputational, environmental and governance risks. Costs rise – at the simplest level just think of benefits of staff retention. At worst, think the Grenfell Tower.  


It is ironic that though we live in an ever more secular society, we are up to our necks in the social media age. Business brands and reputations are Fabergé egg-thin and today need practical alignment of words to actions. 

My organisation, the Ethical Property Foundation, set up the Fairplace Award in partnership with the industry to champion ethical workplace management. It is a three-year accreditation, evidencing commitment to people in the workplace, the community outside the door as well as the environment in a single measure of excellence.

Good management needs collaborative leadership, so how great it is to see so many FMs rising to the challenge and working across departments – finance, HR, procurement – as well as estates, to gather the evidence. FM consultants are also offering added value to clients across all sectors, to help them achieve the award. 

Fairplace Award-holders include RICS, property firm Shaftesbury plc, Emcor UK, Sodexo, and RBS for its customer services centre in Southend. The Fairplace USP is that every penny of licence income supports our charitable mission: supplying property education and advice to voluntary groups, for which we have been sole referral partner to the Charity Commission since 2015.  

Antonia Swinson is CEO of the Ethical Property Foundation