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96% of CRE firms have DEI strategies; firms increasingly focus on scholarships and internships

Global Real Estate DEI Survey results

January 17, 2024

Almost all commercial real estate firms have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in place in their organizations, with the number of firms adopting formal strategies increasing 5% year-over-year, according to the third edition of the Global Real Estate DEI Survey released today.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey shows almost 96% of firms have DEI policies and practices in place in their firms, with 56.4% enacting formal strategies. That marks a 5% YoY increase in firms approving documented, holistic DEI programs. Just 4.2% of firms do not have DEI programs or initiatives, the results reveal.

  • The Global Real Estate DEI Survey, now supported by 19 commercial real estate industry associations globally, tracked DEI practices and employee demographics at 216 firms and was conducted between July and September 2023.

  • The Survey represents 296,902 full-time real estate employees, $1.98 trillion of assets under management and a cross-section of the commercial real estate industry globally in terms of size, region and business type.


Access your complimentary copy of the Global Real Estate DEI Survey Volume III key trends report here:

Key Highlights

Key highlights from the Global Real Estate DEI Survey show commercial real estate firms are increasingly focused on attracting more underrepresented people to the industry as a whole – with 31.6% of firms saying the most impactful DEI policy in 2023 was creating scholarships and internships to increase diversity in candidate pools, up from just 18% of firms the year prior.

In terms of employee demographics, headline data shows the representation of women in commercial real estate ranged from 39.8% to 45.6% across the four regions surveyed, which comprise Asia-Pacific, Europe, Canada and the US.

Note: YoY changes throughout could be the result of changes in the sample of responding firms.

Regional snapshots:

For US firms, which represent 69.5% of Survey respondents, key highlights include:

  • 41.4% of FTEs in commercial real estate in the US are women, while almost 30% of employees are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.

  • The underrepresented race/ethnicity group with the highest percentage of FTEs is Asian (9.8%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (9.4%) and Black or African American (7.2%).Women in the US made gains at the most senior levels of commercial real estate in 2023, with women representing almost 26% of executive management positions up from 23% in 2022.

  • At the board of directors level, the representation of people of color increased more than 50% rising to almost 15% of all board roles – up from just 9% in 2022.

  • The top 10 roles held by men, women, white professionals and people of color are also listed. 

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey reports employee demographics for Canada for the first time.

For firms with employees in Canada, which represent 18.6% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 45.6% of all employees are women – the highest for any region surveyed. Data on ethnicity is not collected for Canada, Asia-Pacific or Europe.

  • 27.4% of board of director positions in Canada are held by women, the highest for any region.

  • Women at Canadian CRE firms comprised nearly half of all mid-level promotions (48.4%) and hires (47.6%) in 2023, exceeding the representation of women at that level of seniority.

  • Note that to increase the representation of women or people of color at any level of seniority, hirings and promotions should materially exceed the baseline employee population for that group. 

In Europe, which represents 11.9% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 39.8% of all commercial real estate roles in Europe are held by women, with women making the most gains in 2023 at the executive management.

  • 25.4% of executive management roles are held by women, up from 12.9% in the year prior.

  • European firms also actively hired and promoted women for the most senior roles in their organizations in 2023. At the executive management and senior level, firms promoted and hired more women than was currently represented helping to move the needle on representation YoY. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, which represents 8.9% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 44.8% of employees are women, with Asia-Pacific firms actively promoting more women to executive management roles and hiring women to mid-level roles in 2023.

  • Similar to other regions, the proportion of women declines as we move up the organizational hierarchy, from women representing 52% of roles at the junior level to 41.9% at the mid-level and gradually decreasing to 17.3% at the board level.


Access your complimentary copy of the Global Real Estate DEI Survey Volume III key trends report here:

About the Survey:

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey is a biannual report tracking corporate DEI practices and employee demographics for commercial real estate globally, across regions, company sizes and business types.

The Survey tracks gender, gender identity, race/ethnicity and age across seniority and job functions in the US as well as gender, gender identity and age across seniority in Asia-Pacific, Canada and Europe. It also provides insights into corporate practices in relation to DEI programs, recruitment, retention, training and development, inclusivity and pay equity.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey is conducted in partnership with 19 commercial real estate industry associations and Ferguson Partners. The associations include AFIRE, AIA, APREA, AREF, BOMA, BPF, CFMA, CoreNet Global, CREFC, EPRA, NAIOP, NAREIM, NCREIF, OSCRE, PFA, PREA, RICS, REALPAC and ULI.

Ferguson Partners

“Ferguson Partners is dedicated to thought leadership and the power of data to drive positive changes that promote inclusivity. Our participation in the Global DEI Survey reinforces our belief, and commitment, in creating an industrial standard within the commercial real estate sector, that may be duplicated across industries. Ferguson Partners remains grounded by empirical insights that strengthen our inclusive framework to cascade empowerment at all levels within organizations.” Dionna Johnson Sallis, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Ferguson Partners

NAREIM, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers

“This year’s Global Real Estate DEI Survey marks an important point in time both for the CRE industry and the Survey itself. Not only is this Survey supported by more industry associations – but it comes at a time when DEI fatigue is growing. We know only too well that DEI is not an afternoon’s training – or something to ponder only during Black History Month. It is a process that brings inclusion and belonging into the heart of talent management process – and the people that drive the success of any firm. This Survey is the first step in that process and we are thrilled to be a part of it with so many esteemed associations.” Zoe Hughes, CEO, NAREIM

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