Diversity A Priority for Most CRE Firms

A new survey of diversity, equity and inclusion metrics for commercial real estate found a clear mandate and momentum for making DEI a priority.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey found 92 percent of CRE firms have adopted a DEI program or initiatives to improve DEI in the workplace. Of that percentage, nearly half of firms have a formal DEI program and 45 percent have initiatives and policies to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

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“Organizational DEI practice is critically important to firms across the real estate industry, and measuring progress is essential to making progress,” said Ed Walter, Global CEO of the Urban Land Institute, which produced the report with several real estate organizations.

Commercial real estate firms are increasingly employing professionals dedicated to DEI or utilizing DEI committees, the report noted. In Europe, 43 percent of CRE firms have professionals solely dedicated to DEI, while in North America, 21 percent of firms have dedicated DEI professionals and 67 percent have formal DEI committees responsible for developing, implementing and reviewing DEI strategies and initiatives.

Of the firms with at least one dedicated DEI employee, he or she is usually at the senior level, the report said. DEI committees also typically report to a C-suite executive or directly to the CEO or other senior leadership.

Globally, the CRE industry has more men than women, at a 58 percent to 42 percent ratio. But the data differ by region, the report said. In Asia-Pacific, men represent 53 percent of all full-time employees compared to 47 percent women. In Europe, men represent 62 percent of all FTEs compared to 38 percent for women. In North America, men represent 59 percent of all FTEs compared to 41 percent for women.

For all regions, women represent more than half of FTEs at the junior level. The gap between male and female employees widens across regions as professionals progress to executive management positions and board of directors level, the report noted.

The survey recommended recruitment practices as key tools to improve the recruitment of underrepresented professionals, including promoting the organization as a representative workplace to diverse candidates (63 percent), ensuring individuals from underrepresented groups are in the candidate pool before making a hiring decision (61 percent) and seeking to remove bias and adverse impact from the hiring process (60 percent).

In addition, outlining clear job requirements and job expectations is the best way to retain diverse talent in the workplace, with 97 percent of firms saying they have already implemented the strategy or plan to in the next year.

A full 93 percent of CRE firms surveyed said they are already providing or plan to implement work-life balance programs such as childcare and flex schedules in the next year. Work-life balance programs scored highest in Europe, where all firms said they had already implemented the practice or plan to implement the policy, followed by Asia-Pacific and North American firms at 92 percent each.

“Offering work-life balance programs is deemed the DEI policy that has been the most impactful to CRE organizations globally,” the report said. “The second-most impactful policy is ensuring individuals from underrepresented groups are in the candidate pool before making a hiring decision.”