07/07/2022 | by
Harbor Steps
Equity employees participating in International Women’s Day. Photo courtesy of Equity Residential.

This case study was published in the 2022 REIT Industry ESG Report, which details the REIT and publicly traded real estate industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and features 32 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.

Driving Cultural Competency and Awareness through Employee Engagement and a Top-Down Inclusivity Strategy

Equity Residential is committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity, founded on an all-encompassing, top-down diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy designed to embed inclusion throughout the organization.

“The work that has been done over the last two years has been inspiring and motivating. I appreciate the focus on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and our values overall. I look forward to seeing how our company continues to grow in these areas for our employees.”
-Equity Residential Employee, Employee Experience Survey

To expand upon its 2020 strategy to build cultural awareness and competency across the organization, Equity Residential developed several new initiatives to increase individual and company-wide cultural awareness by supporting equitable education, with the understanding that individual knowledge and awareness vary. Some of the company’s specific practices include the following:

Equity employees leading with action by participating in inclusive leadership training at leadership summit. Photo courtesy of Equity Residential.
  • Comprehensive educational resources including a performance bias toolkit and a DEI resources site with suggested readings and videos that address unconscious bias and a myriad of inclusion topics to support employee understanding of DEI issues.
  • Leadership micro lessons on varying DEI topics (e.g., inclusive leadership, cultural identity, intersectionality) to guide managers on a path of awareness and action. Since July 2020, the company has provided 213 micro-learning lessons to 510 managers.
  • Listening sessions to create spaces where all employees can safely share stories and experiences to help build employee relationships and trust. Equity Residential conducted 14 listening sessions with executive leadership and more than 300 employees since June 2020.
  • Inclusive hiring and retention practices to bring awareness to unconscious bias in recruiting and hiring systems and processes. Equity Residential works with managers to ensure unbiased evaluations of its diverse slate of candidates by providing both quantitative and qualitative assessments tools. These tools are leveraged throughout the employee life cycle, such as talent reviews, and help cultivate an inclusive environment to support talent retention.
  • Quarterly executive engagements to discuss DEI-related articles, books, and videos to align talent and business strategy to inclusion. C-suite engagement reinforces the importance of DEI in all areas of the business. Three executive-level conversations have occurred with more in development.
  • Company-wide DEI book club in which employees can participate in reading a DEI- related book and discuss as a group once every quarter.

As a result of these efforts, Equity Residential’s most recent employee survey yielded the highest DEI engagement score to date, increasing from 79 to 83 points. In the coming year, Equity Residential will prioritize inclusive leadership development strategies by providing tools, training sessions, and resources to company leaders to ensure successful management in a hybrid world.

Equity Residential is focused on the acquisition, development, and management of residential properties located in and around dynamic cities that attract affluent, long-term renters. The company is a member of the S&P 500 and is committed to creating communities where people thrive.

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