This is a case study that's a part of the 2021 REIT Industry ESG Report, an annual report detailing the REIT industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance details in the publicly traded U.S. REIT industry. Featured case studies showcase REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors and serve as a practical tool for stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives.
Essex Property Trust's (NYSE: ESS) DEI strategy is designed to encourage diversity by promoting a broad range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences and fostering an inclusive environment across the organization where all employees feel a sense of belonging and trust.
In recent years, Essex has formalized and institutionalized its commitments to DEI with enhanced governance structures and concrete actions designed to:
- Ensure robust DEI oversight through a Diversity & Inclusion Committee, with sub-teams focused on strategy, administration, and action to champion and catalyze commitments, and a committee chairperson reporting progress directly to the CEO for enhanced accountability
- Improve workforce diversity demographics, in terms of gender and ethnicity, in each position category, including the Board of Directors
- Maintain a 0% gender pay gap across the organization and amplify employee voices through employee-led affinity groups and DEI listening sessions, which were further bolstered amidst the pandemic through widely attended virtual events and the implementation of expanded digital connection capabilities
- Engage in public reporting on DEI performance metrics, leading to greater transparency with its stakeholders
- Implement a DEI education program, including unconscious bias training that engages 100% of Essex's workforce and includes concepts applicable to both the workplace and associates' personal lives
Essex is viewed as a leader in diversity and inclusion across the REIT industry, being named a 2020 Women on the Board's "W" Winning Company in honor of its commitment to board diversity, as well as presented with the Bronze Award at Nareit's 2020 D&I Recognition Awards. Reinforcing the organization's people-first leadership mentality, Essex's President and CEO, Michael Schall, was named a top-ten CEO in a global survey by Glassdoor for his exemplary leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The 'S' in ESG is gaining more and more relevance given the historic issues of this past year. At Essex, we have always believed that the diversity of our people is the foundation of our success. We want to be the right place to work, to attract the right personnel, to achieve the right vision—and to do that requires a diverse and inclusive workforce. We are not just committing to DEI, we are institutionalizing it."
Patrick Gonzalez, Senior Manager of ESG and Sustainability
Essex is a fully integrated REIT that acquires, develops, redevelops, and manages multifamily apartment communities located in supply-constrained markets.