Krzysztof Misiak

Head of Cushman & Wakefield Poland

Nowadays, more and more often company managers put emphasis on the fact that their organization fits into a broader social context and undertakes initiatives related to corporate social responsibility. What activities do you carry out in this area, how is it implemented, what does responsible leadership mean to you? 

From my perspective, responsible leadership is the ability to balance activities focused on achieving better financial results of the company with activities focused on improving the quality of life of our employees, their families, as well as the wider community affected by our activities.  The task of responsible leaders is to create a physical, mental and emotional space in which people feel involved in their daily work, and at the same time are attentive to the reality around us and have a sense of real influence, thanks to which they willingly propose and implement initiatives with a broader social context. The task of responsible leaders is also to efficiently make conscious, though sometimes difficult, decisions regarding the functioning of the company, its structures, optimization of activities and costs, investing in new areas, while taking into account both business results and the impact of these decisions on individual employees.

At Cushman & Wakefield, most of the initiatives we implement with a broader social context are bottom-up initiatives proposed by our employees. We promote and support the activities of various charitable organizations, we engage in activities for a good impact on the environment, we integrate around various ideas that our employees are interested in. Jednocześnie nasze podejście zakłada przede wszystkim konsekwentne budowanie świadomości wśród naszych pracowników na tematy związane z ESG po to, aby to nie pojedyncze akcje były naszą kluczową strategią w tym zakresie, a codzienne działania, które jako ludzie realizujemy i codzienne wybory, których dokonujemy.

More and more investors and financial institutions choose as their partners those organizations that operate in accordance with ESG recommendations. Do you think that is right?

There is currently no other path for business than to responsibly follow the global Sustainable Development Goals. ESG aspects are very important from the perspective of the values of our employees, due to progressive legal regulations, requirements of banks or investors, but also from the perspective of the entire company’s value chain, including the benefits of major stakeholders. Only a holistic view of all aspects of ESG helps to maintain, expand business and build competitive advantage in the current crucial time, and Cushman & Wakefield is constantly taking action to make a significant contribution to building a sustainable future.

How does the company you manage go beyond the so-called business as usual?

First of all, we report on Sustainable Development issues. Cushman & Wakefield’s ESG Report 2021 discusses our activities and efforts in all key ESG areas and shows how our employees contribute to our ESG goals.

Cushman & Wakefield’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and commitment to net-zero emissions have been identified by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) as being in line with the Paris Agreement stipulations. In addition to reducing our own emissions (Scope 1 and 2 by 50% by 2030 compared to 2019) and achieving net-zero emissions across the entire value chain by 2050, our main goal is to encourage our key clients – some of the world’s largest property owners and tenants – to set their own targets by 2025.

We have been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2018. We have identified 6 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most relevant to our business and represent the areas where we can have the greatest impact.

Our Business Ethics Standard is a member of the ISESC coalition, which includes more than 80 professional organizations that set global standards of ethical principles for professionals in the land, construction, real estate and infrastructure industries.

We focus on healthcare buildings built in the spirit of Sustainable Development, in which the well-being of people and our planet is always in the first place. Our Warsaw headquarters received the WELL GOLD certificate from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The WELL certification system focuses on the health, comfort and well-being of building users and testifies to the highest standard of certified space.

In 2021, we became the first partner in Poland of WiredScore, the organization behind the WiredScore and SmartScore certificates. These are internationally recognised assessment systems for digital connectivity and smart buildings. We are an accredited expert with appropriate qualifications to conduct the certification process. In our structures we also have BREEAM and Fitwel assessors as well as people dealing with LEED certification.

We have been dealing with Sustainable Development issues for years in many areas of the company, but in addition, following the progressive structuring of this subject in Europe, we have established a team of ESG experts in Poland, which offers our clients various types of services in the areas of: environmental, social and corporate governance.

What is it doing for the climate, local communities, diversity or what would you like to implement in the near future?

The company’s priorities primarily include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. Between 2019 and 2021, Cushman & Wakefield globally reduced its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 8.6% in absolute terms, respectively. We also measure emissions in relevant categories within Scope 3.

Caring for the diversity, needs, health and safety of our employees is in our DNA. We are on the first list of 31 organizations – employers most advanced in diversity and inclusion management in Poland.  It was developed on the basis of the Diversity IN Check study, conducted by the Responsible Business Forum and partner organizations.

Cushman & Wakefield has established a Global Sustainability Task Force to develop a strategy for further environmental initiatives. We actively work with EMEA teams to respond to the broadest possible ESG needs of our clients. One of our goals for the near future is also to educate all our stakeholders in the scope of ESG services offered.

Every company creates its corporate culture that embodies the values that customers see externally. Do customers prefer to choose this particular company because it does something good with which the customer identifies or is it mainly price-driven purchasing decisions? What is your opinion, what trends have you observed, is something changing in this area?

Certainly, every company has a corporate culture that promotes certain values, even if this culture and values are not created intentionally. We invite our employees to jointly create the environment of our work, because they know best what conditions must be met so that every day in their work they simply feel good and what they need to work effectively. At the same time, as leaders, we try every day to set an example of how we want to work, how to communicate with each other, how to act and cooperate, so that the values we declare are reflected in practice.

What kind of working climate we create together, what quality we represent inside the company in our activities, is of great importance in relations with our clients, who can experience this quality during jointly implemented projects. In my opinion, the awareness of all of us in the area of ESG is constantly growing, so undoubtedly the perception of the brand as socially responsible is important both in relations between corporate clients, as is the case in our industry, and between the customer-consumer and a given brand or product. In the latter case, the price in the current market situation will still remain a key aspect of purchasing decisions for many of us.

The development of values and ethical principles in many organizations may indicate that awareness in this area is growing. Many managers declare that they put ethics at the center of their activities. Is compliance with the principles of fair play in management a guarantee of stable development of the company?

The question is, can anyone or anything guarantee stable development of the company in such unstable times? However, thinking about business development and the existence of a strong brand on the market in the long term, there is no room for unethical activities. This approach is part of the organization’s culture and the aforementioned responsible leadership – either we accept and turn a blind eye to what is unethical or at least questionable, or we react in every situation in which such action occurs. Of course, this reaction will be different each time, because it will be tailored to a specific situation.

What is the significance of culture here? If aspects such as respect, trust and dialogue are elements of culture, many of the questionable issues have a chance to be “flagged” and resolved at an early stage. Responding responsibly to such situations is a signal for the future for others, both in the context of what is unacceptable, but also in the context of how we as a company act in such situations. It is also important for each employee to be clear about the process of reporting possible irregularities – who they should turn to, what communication channel to use, what actions they can expect. It is worth emphasizing that the confirmation of the above are not the declarations of company boards, but employees, business partners and customers who are the best ambassadors of each company.

It is worth emphasizing that the code of ethical conduct is an inseparable element of the entire company’s strategy and must go hand in hand with other activities that we carry out every day. Detached from strategy, culture and values, it will remain only a theoretical list of norms that will probably not be reflected in practice.

The world needs wise and good leaders who want to have a positive impact on their environment. Was there a moment when you started to look for a deeper meaning in your work, an opportunity to do something good for your communities or country? What has been achieved?

Indeed, it is the case that the position I occupy in the organization that I have the pleasure to manage is, above all, a huge responsibility not only for financial results, but above all towards the people working in it and for it and the entire environment surrounding the company. I must admit that I have been working at Cushman & Wakefield for over 15 years, which, as it is quite easy to count, translates into the fact that I have not only managed to make a career in the company, but above all to “grow up” to certain matters. At the beginning, like probably every young person, I was simply focused on work – on getting to know the company, understanding how it functions and, above all, simply performing my duties as best I can. However, over the years, the experience I have gained and a kind of professional self-confidence, which I treat as a natural consequence of the results achieved, I have understood that my professional everyday life is not “just work”. In fact, with every action I influence the environment – starting from very small things that I can do privately, such as pro-ecological behavior or private charity initiatives, through issues in which my decision-making power results from the position I take and I can use it for some noble purpose.

I also do not hide that starting a family was an additional impulse that made my thinking and business activities even more directed towards social responsibility for the business in which I work. As a person, parent, employee or finally a boss, I try to make a business decision each time bearing in mind that we are not in this world “alone here and now”, and the effects of our current actions on every level will determine what our “tomorrow” will look like for our children.

Responsibility towards stakeholders and future generations makes me want to support and strengthen all initiatives that we successfully implement and thanks to which Cushman & Wakefield can certainly define itself as a socially responsible company towards business, the environment and its employees.

In conclusion, I would like to add that if I did not have the opportunity to implement such a strategy, act in harmony with myself, then due to my private views, I would probably no longer take the current position in this organization, because I consider actions inconsistent with these beliefs not only ineffective, but above all insincere and contrary to the generally accepted principles of business “fair play”.

Krzysztof Misiak for almost 15 years he has been associated with global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. In 2012, he assumed responsibility for the Regional Cities section within the Office Department and successfully introduced the Cushman & Wakefield brand to the main regional markets. In 2018, he became the director of the entire office space department. Since April 2020, he has been the director of the Polish branch of the company. Krzysztof has become one of the most recognizable figures on the Polish commercial real estate market.

He has participated in almost 400 lease transactions on over 700,000 m2. Despite the challenges faced by the market during the pandemic, thanks to strategic decisions, it managed to maintain and even increase the profitability of the business. With his energy and innovative approach to management, he infects not only customers and partners, but also employees, whom he treats as partners, regardless of their rank in the organization. He takes the opinion of others into account, but he has a specific vision of the future, which he would like to implement in a short time to introduce a completely new quality on the Polish commercial real estate market.

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Anastazja Lach