Irvine-based FivePoint Holdings LLC (NYSE: FPH) is doing holiday gifts differently this year.
Rather than hold an event or gift items to its 165 employees, the company is instead giving checks to each employee to be used for donations to a cause of their choice.
Involving employees in the company’s philanthropic efforts is a cornerstone for FivePoint, California’s largest land development company led by Chief Executive Emile Haddad.
“We want everyone in the company to be empowered and involved,” Haddad told the Business Journal. a
“Sometimes when companies make C-suite decisions it’s more for show, but this way, employees know they are part of something that’s real.”
With long-standing healthcare, education and community partnerships, FivePoint is a stand-out in Orange County for its philanthropic efforts, specifically Irvine, home to its Great Park Neighborhoods development.
Haddad doesn’t think of it as philanthropy, however.
“It’s just a fact for us. You can’t be a part of a community and not try to be plugged into every aspect of it,” he said.
The company is one of five honorees selected in the Business Journal’s Companies that Care awards.
Every Thursday, FivePoint holds a company-wide call to hear from employees and their families to discuss anything and everything—from personal concerns to professional ideas.
Among the agenda is typically a discussion about how FivePoint is getting involved in the community, and how employees can be a part of it.
In fact, a bulk of FivePoint’s community initiatives stem from employees on the ground, with Haddad making just a fraction of philanthropic decisions.
“We trust our people to make choices about which organizations to get involved with,” he said, adding that this, in turn, helps contribute to a strong company culture.
“It’s not about making a corporate decision; it’s about enabling each employee to help our communities in any way they can.”
This year, FivePoint’s giving back efforts have been much more tangible.
Right after the coronavirus pandemic hit the region in March, Haddad quickly tapped his contact list to secure as many masks and other Personal Protective Equipment to donate them to first-line responders.
At the start of April, Haddad had secured a shipment of more than 10,000 N95 grade masks along with 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 bottles of sanitizers.
The company would ultimately help to donate more than 2.5 million masks in FivePoint’s three communities: Orange County, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
They were donated to area hospitals, police and fire departments and others on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis and in short supply for these types of products.
“We are always looking to help out those who are the most vulnerable. If you can protect them, the community as a whole will recover much faster,” said Haddad.
The pandemic has reinforced FivePoint’s focus on healthcare, a cornerstone to the company’s Great Park Neighborhoods.
It has partnered with City of Hope to deliver a new campus at Irvine’s FivePoint Gateway office complex; the Duarte-based cancer hospital bought a 190,000-square-foot, four-story building there for $108 million in May.
Tenant improvements are currently underway at the building, which will become City of Hope’s first comprehensive cancer center outside of its main campus.
The center, along with a future acute care cancer hospital to be built by City of Hope on the same site, will anchor what FivePoint and City of Hope believe will one day become a regional hub for a larger wellness campus in Irvine.
Expect additional healthcare partnerships between the two to follow.
“We are looking to introduce new healthcare models that deliver care more efficiently from an economic and timing point of view,” said Haddad, such as virtual doctor’s visits and other technology-focused initiatives.
FivePoint has said its mixed-use developments are intended to create “sustainable communities of the future” by combining wellness and educational elements, alongside commercial and residential components.
On the education front, FivePoint is working to narrow the gap between social classes, and this year donated $1 million to Irvine Public Schools Foundation.
This follows another $1 million educational donation the company made last September to the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Haddad, also chairman of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate’s advisory board, said a majority of the donation will be used to recruit new faculty and create scholarships for “a more diverse student body” in real estate development.
Collaboration and communication have been priorities for FivePoint throughout the pandemic, with just Haddad and three other top-level executives working from the office since March.
Prior to the pandemic, Haddad and employees would gather every Friday after lunch for informal discussions; those efforts are now virtual, and seemed to grow in importance.
“Everything that’s happened this year has really built a stronger bond between our people, and it’s reinforced that we are a company that believes in building culture organically.”
Hard times bring people together, as Haddad knows first hand having been a teenager in Beirut during the start of the Lebanese Civil War.
“The relationships that I established then are some of the strongest I have, and that’s what 2020 is all about: building on these relationships and returning better than before.”