12 December 2022
Before stepping into any great building, it must first be constructed. And the key to constructing a great building? Establishing a strong foundation. New York skyscrapers didn’t just appear. Architects carefully drew up plans to ensure they would last far into the future—starting with their foundations. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies serve as the foundation for companies looking to expand their social reach across their company and into the communities around them. Diversity doesn’t just happen overnight. The plans and details must be laid out with intent to create foundations upon which change can be built.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Commercial Real Estate
Over the past few years, the topic of DEI has sparked conversation across the real estate sector, prompting real estate firms to act. In a traditionally male-dominated sector, both racial and gender diversity has become a top priority in commercial real estate, and is, in many cases, becoming a requirement. However, DEI is about more than just box-ticking or feelgood exercises. Diversity has been proven to add significant value to a company’s ideation and culture. In fact, 61% of commercial real estate professionals who participated in the Real Estate Balance survey believe increasing diversity within the workplace will increase business interactions and have committed to diversifying their hiring, leadership, and training programs.
DEI can seem straightforward, but creating and maintaining momentum can be tricky. Embedding diversity and inclusion into a company’s fabric creates a foundation to build on. A DEI framework not only provides a basis for business conduct, but also serves to minimize risks. Diversity and inclusion practices serve to bolster business sense and progress by contributing to employee retention and community involvement. This in turn contributes to a larger cultural shift within companies, whereby DEI goes from being viewed as a requirement, to being seen as a benefit.
Creating change within companies
There are more than just a few ways to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion within a company. Here are a few to get started with:
- Establish a DEI framework
Draw on existing resources, and when a gap is found, take it as an opportunity to contribute. DEI frameworks include various components, such as publicly available resources, internal policies, and so forth. There are several existing resources within the commercial real estate sector contributing to the ongoing conversation, including BOMA’s DEI Resource Library. Establishing a policy framework and action plan will serve as a guide towards further developing and setting accountability measures.
- Develop mentorship programs
Another way to ensure a lasting commitment to DEI is by developing mentorship programs. Mentorship helps cultivate talent internally and externally. Through mentorships, employees can share what they have learned, or what they hope to learn, and create networks of support within their company. Similarly, mentorship programs with an external component or community-facing side help cultivate talent in the next generation of learners. This not only creates a connection between a company and its community, but attracts new talent to the company, as well. Mentorship programs also create a network of shared knowledge for current and future employees to access and benefit from.
- Collect data and track progress
One of the best ways to maintain momentum in diversity and inclusion is by monitoring progress. Collecting data and tracking changes over time will give a company valuable insight on where and how to improve. DEI is about more than just numbers, so taking the time to hear from employees and executives about their experiences and personal ideas on how to improve diversity and inclusion is essential. Tracking and reporting progress creates accountability within a company and shows employees and stakeholders commitment to diversity and inclusion.
How Longevity Partners can support companies’ DEI efforts
In the world of ESG consulting, Longevity Partners helps to create pathways, build tools, and guide clients throughout their goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the same way in which sustainability must be cultivated, diversity and inclusion must also be developed through policy, community engagement, and management.
At Longevity Partners, we provide insight and pathways to guide our clients towards both internal and external success. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a journey that requires intention and action. Internal social and governance policies, codes of conduct, and annual reporting, are a few ways in which we help companies set the intention and follow through with their goals. When we create companies built on diverse and equitable practices, we all succeed in creating a strong foundation built to last.