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.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are longstanding elements of Ventas, Inc.'s (Ventas) ESG principles. Following the national awakening to racial inequities across society this past year, the company has been quick to react; initially by denouncing racism and reaffirming its commitment to DEI though an open letter to employees, and through a series of active steps to educate and engage employees more deeply on these critical topics.
Employee education, engagement, and communication lie at the foundation of the company's DEI efforts, and in 2020, Ventas took this to heart with a fun and unique competition. Employee teams, each convened by an executive vice president, collaborated virtually to research a social justice focused non-profit organization. Each team created a dynamic video presentation for an all-company viewing event where employees had the opportunity to vote for their favorite organization to receive a donation from the Ventas Charitable Foundation. Combined, donations to the competition's top three causes totaled $50,000, but the real "winners" were the company’s employees who learned about these organizations and the important issues they address through a hybrid philanthropic, educational, and team building exercise.
With a longer-term view to drive lasting change and advance DEI throughout the company, the industry, and beyond, Ventas is developing a multidimensional DEI framework that outlines actions the company will take in the areas of people, company culture, investment and financial activities, community engagement, and in celebrating its DEI commitments.
"Executive sponsorship, combined with a clear strategy, concrete actions, and a focus on employee training and engagement are critical to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion at Ventas."
Kelly Meissner, Director of Sustainability
This framework is supported by the organization's DEI oversight structure which is led by the Chairman and CEO, who oversees an interdisciplinary employee committee charged with operationalizing the framework and taking intentional actions to drive tangible change. Elements of the framework that are already in progress include:
- Business Operations: Reimagined hiring and procurement practices to embed diversity and inclusion into standard business operations, and therefore increase the diversity of Ventas' talent and vendor network.
- Training: A robust unconscious bias training program supported by an external DEI specialist conducting a series of in-person and virtual training and development workshops, which started in 2020.
- Community: A focused effort to expand employee resource groups (ERG), including dedicated forums for Women, Diversity, and Young Professionals. Supported by an executive-level sponsor, these groups bring employees together in a collaborative and engaging environment that supports professional development, career management, cross-departmental collaboration, and mentoring.
- Partnership: A four-year commitment to the Real Estate Executive Council's (REEC) Diversity Initiative to help build inclusive cultures, establish supportive organizational structures, facilitate equitable pay, and find and retain diverse talent at all levels.
In combination, these DEI initiatives are building a collective awareness of, training around, and commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment that is rooted in employee engagement.
Ventas, Inc. is a real estate investment trust specializing in the ownership and management of health care facilities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.