Nareit’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Recognition Awards honor both Nareit member companies and individual members who have demonstrated a strong commitment and made outstanding contributions to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within their companies as well as in the REIT community. The 2022 winners, honored at Nareit’s REITworld in November, spotlight the critical role DEI plays in the success of workplaces, business, and communities.
“[Through these winners] we celebrate great advancements within our industry,” said Ayris T. Scales, Nareit’s SVP, social responsibility and global initiatives. “Our goal with these awards is to highlight the intentional efforts of our members.”
Learn more about Nareit’s Dividends Through Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative, and read on for more about the 2022 winners’ top DEI priorities for the year ahead.
Individual DEI Award Winner
Laurie Baker, executive vice president and COO for Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT), received the 2022 Individual DEI Award. As the first female member of Camden’s c-suite, Baker is recognized for her keen ability to identify which voices are often missing from critical conversations in her daily work. Over her 23 years with the REIT, Baker has been a driving force in Camden’s DEI governance and strategy and instrumental in expanding involvement beyond those with executive titles. Baker is also a founding member and the current chair of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Racial Equity Taskforce.
Q: What are you most proud of that Camden has achieved in DEI?
A commitment and organizational structure for DEI that runs through all levels of the organization, and our strategic plan that is inclusive of underrepresented perspectives. When we say we listen, we mean it—annual surveys, town halls, and touch points via our DEI Council. The intent is to create a space where employees from a variety of backgrounds and experiences can be seen, heard, and valued. We believe in thoughtful yet powerful communication and value diversity and respect our differences.
Q: Why is it important that voices from various levels of the organization are included in DEI conversations?
We strive to build solutions for our future with our future leaders at the table. And, that future is diverse. We are happy to celebrate individual stories, and we recognize that listening for different perspectives means more than elevating diversity for diversity’s sake. It is critical to hear from our team members what’s working and how we can improve, and involve them in the problem solving and solution building.
Q: What’s ahead for Camden in its DEI efforts?
Camden’s DEI Governance is structured around the importance of representation, sponsorship, and allyship. All Camden DEI initiatives are led by racially diverse DEI Council members and sponsored by executive leaders. We also believe that DEI is the responsibility of every team member, so broad engagement and accountability is key as we move forward on our journey.
CultureConnection, our DEI Network, is cross-functional, cross-regional, and inclusive of individuals representing an array of cultural backgrounds. In 2022, this group gained insight into Camden’s DEI Strategy, contributed ideas for elevating DEI as part of the all-Camden employee experience, and began to build new professional relationships with Camden’s DEI leaders. We will continue to infuse DEI in our talent and business practices with an ear to this group and an expectation of involvement from all leaders when it comes to practicing inclusion and equity at all levels of our organization.
REIT.com asked the award-winning companies what their top priority for advancing DEI will be in the year ahead.
Gold Winner: Camden Property Trust
Our top priority is to leverage the structure we have established over the last year, which we feel provides an engaging platform to celebrate diversity, encourage conversations around diverse perspectives, and focus on being an inclusive workplace.
This structure was developed under the notion that diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to Camden’s culture, who we are, and how we achieve. Our DEI objectives are woven through our cultural norms, talent practices, and business objectives. In order to lead, execute, and sustain progress, Camden’s DEI Governance includes a 100% commitment from participating executives, a full-time director, a DEI Council working group, and CultureConnection, a newly established peer network designed to champion DEI and one another. We initiate annual surveys specific to DEI to ensure all voices are heard.
Three guideposts drive our strategic focus on DEI, and in 2023 we will continue to build upon the systems and structures that help us achieve our long-term goals that:
- DEI is reflected in our behaviors and our brand.
- We leverage people analytics and new practices to build equity, inclusion, and diversity at all levels.
- We are recognized for our courage and commitment in driving growth, innovation, and social impact.
Silver Winner: Spirit Realty Capital
Spirit is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion both within our company and in our community during 2023. In 2022, we embarked upon a long-term vision to develop inclusive leaders through ongoing education, reflection, and conversation.
We partnered with a global diversity and inclusion consulting firm to support us in these efforts and design formal programming to increase the cross-cultural competence of our team.
We will prioritize the continuation (not the finalization) of this education in 2023 through ongoing formal instruction and additional programming and dialogue designed to build upon what we have learned. Our view is that progress on DEI is not accomplished through “one and done” training, but through authentic conversation and development over time.
By developing inclusive leaders, we will impact not only our company, but the people and communities we interact with.
Bronze Winner: Ventas, Inc.
At Ventas, we have a longstanding practice of taking deliberate actions to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continuously challenge ourselves to innovate and accelerate these initiatives to drive lasting progress in our company, the real estate industry, and our communities.
In 2023, our top priorities for advancing DEI within Ventas include:
- Further embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into our talent strategy, including our approach to hiring, professional development, career progression, and compensation.
- Fostering a strong culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion by embracing and highlighting our employees’ unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.
- Expanding our relationships with minority and women-owned businesses, and promoting and supporting the DEI efforts of our partners, vendors, and suppliers.
These initiatives include our work with HBCUs and similar organizations to enhance our recruiting efforts; our DEI speaker series featuring diverse thought leaders who share their experiences and perspectives with our employees; and active partnerships within our communities to provide resources to diverse and underserved populations, particularly benefitting students and the elderly.
We believe our commitment to DEI at Ventas makes our team stronger and makes us a better, more effective and more sustainable company. Our initiatives to advance DEI contribute to superior outcomes for all our stakeholders and for the communities in which we live and operate.