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.
Expanding Efforts to Influence a Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
With executive leadership and support, Hersha Hospitality Trust is focused on implementing robust diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs through collaborative strategies promoted within its organization and to the broader community.
“Our focus on DEI initiatives led to increased employee training, support for our diverse community of employees, and our signing of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge. Through these actions, we hope to inspire others to share and learn from each other.”
-Jay H. Shah, Chief Executive Officer, Hersha Hospitality Trust
In 2010, Hersha launched its proprietary sustainability platform, EarthView, focused on delivering financial value and promoting the long-term health and wellbeing of its employees, guests, communities, and the planet. Implementing EarthView helped to formalize and integrate Hersha’s DEI strategy across the organization with a focus on three key areas:
Establishing Culture: Last year, Hersha created a DEI council with representatives from various corporate offices, as well as associates from Hersha’s hotels. The council works to share perspectives and feedback, develop trainings, and expand learnings. For instance, the company partnered with an educational nonprofit to host a town hall-style interactive webinar aimed at building Hersha’s cultural intelligence to deliver better business results. To ensure Hersha is collecting honest and anonymous feedback on its efforts, the company conducts Hersha Hears engagement surveys.
Attaining and Growing Talent: The company’s lead for talent acquisitions is a certified DEI recruiter who brings practices and tools to the company’s recruiting and hiring processes that help support equity and inclusion. Hersha’s sourcing and screening processes for recruitment engage diverse candidates and interviewers to ensure diversity on both sides of the conversation.
One of Hersha’s most impactful DEI strategies has been expanding its unconscious bias trainings for associates. These trainings, led by DEI experts, assist in establishing an inclusive corporate culture. A top-down approach to DEI is important as Hersha illustrated by CEO Jay Shah’s signing of the pledge for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, highlighting to stakeholders that DEI is a core part of Hersha’s culture.
Influencing the Marketplace: Hersha looks to use the lessons learned within its organization to improve DEI practices in the marketplace and with management partners. For example, members of the sales and purchasing teams engage potential customers and suppliers on Hersha’s company-wide DEI policies. Hersha recently began to monitor its spend with female and minority-owned suppliers to define a baseline and establish clear targets for improvement in diversity within its supply chain moving forward.
Hersha’s expansive DEI programs have helped the company add value to its organization by engaging employees, growing diverse talent, and earning stakeholder trust in the marketplace.
Hersha Hospitality Trust is a self-advised REIT in the hospitality sector, that owns and operates high-quality hotels in urban gateway markets and regional resort destinations.