10/02/2023 | by

This case study was published in the 2023 REIT Industry ESG Report, which details the REIT and publicly traded real estate industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and features 20 case studies showcasing REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors. The report serves as a practical tool for shareholders and stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives. Applicable footnotes and/or citations for this case study are available in the full report.

American Tower Tacoma, WA
American Tower Tacoma, Tacoma, WA. Photo courtesy of American Tower.

For American Tower, embedding ESG objectives into its strategic priorities directly impacts its long-term success. The company, led by its CEO, Tom Bartlett, is committed to strong corporate governance that ensures accountability from the top, starting with its board and including every employee from all regions of operation.

American Tower’s board of directors prioritizes ESG programs and processes, and each of the board’s three committees have integrated the oversight of specific ESG risks and opportunities:

  • The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee oversees board composition and corporate governance practices as well as the company’s ESG programs and policies. This includes environmental initiatives, community engagement, human capital management, workforce diversity and development, and ESG reporting. Forty-two percent of American Tower’s directors are female, and 33% are racially and/or ethnically diverse.
  • The Compensation Committee reviews the company’s compensation policies and corporate goals for its leadership. In 2022, the committee approved incorporating individual ESG metrics into the short-term incentive program for each of the company’s executives, including the CEO. Each executive has goals that are specific to the individual’s role and include both a metric associated with human capital management, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions or increasing access to affordable digital solutions for underserved communities, bridging the digital divide.
  • The Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing the identification and mitigation of financial risks and reporting processes, as well as for reviewing the company’s audit, compliance, and cybersecurity programs.

Global Sustainability Committee

In 2021, American Tower established a Global Sustainability Committee (GSC) to implement the company’s sustainability strategy through cross- market knowledge sharing and collaboration. The GSC is led by the chief sustainability officer and includes market leaders and regional sustainability committees, that jointly develop and implement regional sustainability initiatives aligned with the company’s global sustainability strategy. This regional approach allows American Tower to stay connected with each market where it operates.

Formal oversight of ESG issues is a key area of focus for the company due to the demand for increased transparency and the trend toward more regulated disclosure. American Tower is preparing for this shift by facilitating internal communication between the board committees that oversee ESG objectives and the employees who lead their implementation. American Tower’s top down ESG oversight strategy is part of the firm’s steadfast commitment to doing business the right way.

American Tower, one of the largest global REITs, is a leading independent owner, operator, and developer of multi-tenant communications real estate with a portfolio of nearly 226,000 communications sites and a highly interconnected footprint of U.S. data center facilities.

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