A global survey on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the commercial real estate sector has shown companies are broadening their diversity remits, with almost all respondents now addressing gender or gender identity.

The results also demonstrated that companies in the sector are broadening and deepening their DEI programmes with 95% of respondents saying thery have a formal process in place to enact initiatives improving the representation of women and under-represented groups. 

Despite the progress made by real estate companies, there is sill not a single global strategy for DEI, with differing approaches adopted across the globe.

The latest Global Real Estate DEI Survey, was produced by ANREV, INREV, Ferguson Partners, NAREIM, NCREIF, PREA, REALPAC and ULI. It was set up in 2021 to track global real estate DEI data around corporate practices, to create an international benchmark.

Among respondents that have a formal DEI program, more than 85% set measurable goals for the next 12 months, although more than 11% did not have plans to do so.

On recruitment, retention and pay equity, more than a third of participants said they planned to introduce anti-bias measures, with a third of respondents planning to ensure managers receive training on anti-bias hiring within 12 months. 

Real estate companies are tackling pay equality in greater numbers: in 2021, 79% of respondents said they analysed pay gaps based on gender or were planning to do so, and this rose to 85% in 2022. Europe is leading the way, with 84% of respondents across the continent monitoring pay equity, compared to 69% in Asia-Pacific and 67% in North America.

Zoe Hughes, CEO of NAREIM, said: “We know the DEI journey within commercial real estate will take time, but what is tremendous to see from the Global Real Estate DEI Survey 2022 is how policies to address diversity, equity and inclusion are broadening – and deepening – across the industry.

“Why do we think that is? At its heart, DEI is about great talent management and making employees feel included and heard within the business. It’s about embracing ideas, new ways of thinking and helping a business to grow and prosper so it can successfully manage the risks and opportunities of investing today and tomorrow.

“One way we’ve seen that articulated through the DEI Survey 2022 is through respondents ranking DEI policies by their impact. The survey showed that the most successful DEI policy in 2022 was by simply talking about and communicating DEI efforts to employees. That is a great talent management tool in itself – talking to your fellow employees and letting them be heard – and it’s at the heart of DEI too.”

The DEI Survey 2022 represents more than 357,041 full-time employees, across companies with a total of $2.34trn (€2.2trn) of assets under management and a cross section of the commercial real estate industry in terms of size, region and business. The latest survey was conducted between July and October 2022, bringing together participation from 192 organisations in North America (81% of respondents), Europe (12%) and Asia-Pacific (6%).

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