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What does DEI success look like? Answer = Defined hiring and promotion targets

Results presentation: Global Real Estate DEI Survey 2021

January 21, 2021

The majority of real estate organizations see defined hiring and promotion targets as a key objective and goal of their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and programs.

During a special review this week of the results of the 2021 Global Real Estate DEI Survey, members were told that four of the top five goals of DEI policies within CRE firms related to defined hiring and promotion targets for underrepresented groups.

According to the Survey, just under half (47%) of CRE firms participating said they had a formal DEI policy, while an additional 45% had enacted DEI initiatives and policies. The Survey, released on December 16, represented more than 160 firms globally and covered more than 435,000 FTEs and $2tn of AUM.

Presenting the key takeaways from the report during a joint session hosted by NAREIM, NCREIF, REALPAC and ULI, Erin Green, Managing Director and Lindsay Wilhusen, Director, of Ferguson Partners said participants were clear in what success for DEI programs looked like – a focus on workforce demographics and increasing diverse representation.

As NAREIM members look to the future, a greater focus is expected to be put on behavioral policies, and improved employee engagement and inclusion, the meeting heard.

Other key takeaways from the Survey results presentation, included:

  • DEI budgets: More firms are expected to provide or increase dedicated funding for DEI policies in future years. Currently just 26% of firms have a dedicated DEI budget, with 63% funding DEI initiatives from existing budgets

  • DEI committees: More firms are expected to have board members become more active in DEI policies, with DEI committees predicted to report to executive members and the board in future years. Currently, 62% of firms have DEI committees, with the median size of the committee 10 people. Most committees (43%) report to the C-suite, CEO or President. Just 15% report to the board of directors or a board committee.

  • Retention: Outlining job requirements and setting clear expectations for a role and promotion is one of the best ways to drive retention for all FTEs. The meeting heard that in the absence of well-defined criteria for job requirements, employees will make assumptions about why decisions were made. Try to be objective, members were told, about what is required for different positions and what’s required to be promoted.

  • Clear communication: One of the overriding lessons learned from DEI is the need to make clear to all employees the push behind DEI is not just for social good – it’s also in the best interests of the business. It was critical to ensure DEI was not a check the box exercise. It was something that supported the success and growth of the business.

DEI in performance reviews

Few CRE firms adopt DEI metrics and performance as part of performance and bonus reviews, however one member highlighted how they were approaching the issue, given DEI data collection was in its early stages. 

The member said they were including DEI in the performance review discussion at year-end, but not tying it to compensation at this stage. The meeting talked about the idea of taking a gradual approach and introducing DEI as another performance metric, to gain acceptance in future years of its formal adoption in performance and bonus discussions.

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