07/01/2024 | by

Experts highlight that addressing compensation, improving workplace culture, and maintaining continuous commitment to progress are key to retaining diverse talent and promoting inclusivity amidst an evolving environment.

In this webinar on Nareit’s annual industry workforce and diversity survey results, presenters said that diversity and inclusion are integral to the business strategy for REITs, affecting the bottom line and sustainability. Ayris Scales, senior vice president of social responsibility and global initiatives, moderated the conversation between Dionna Johnson Sallis and Meredith Doucette from Ferguson Partners.

Johnson Sallis and Doucette presented the survey findings, noting the following takeaways:

  • Gender identity and race/ethnicity are dimensions that are most likely to be addressed by diversity initiatives, with an increasing focus on refugee status.
  • There is a growing trend of appointing chief diversity officers.
  • Support for diversity varies by company size. It was noted that smaller organizations allocate fewer resources but still make significant impacts, with nearly two-thirds dedicating some resources. Growth in diversity-related committees was highlighted, particularly in smaller companies, showing a substantial increase from 2021 to 2023.
  • Employee resource groups (ERGs) play an important role in driving diversity efforts, especially with budget limitations.
  • There is a lack of targeted leadership training for women and people of color.
  • Analyzing REIT employee demographics data shows higher representation of women and people of color in lower-level positions, which is not maintained at executive and board levels.
  • Positive trends in board demographics are encouraging, with an increase in representation of people of color from 8% in 2019 to 19% in 2023.
  • In the areas of promotion, hiring, and departure trends, over the years, there have been higher departure rates among people of color, particularly women of color.
  • Compensation was noted as the primary reason for employees leaving, particularly among women and white men, with culture being the third most cited reason for people of color at departure.

As a part of the conversation, Johnson Sallis introduced the Inclusivity Under Management (IUM) document, focusing on cultural competence, empathy, and collaboration, with Scales reiterating the significance of inclusive practices for all employees and their broader impact of socioeconomic status.

Speakers underscored the necessity of adapting organizational culture to attract and retain diverse talent, emphasizing the importance of continuous commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts even in challenging times, with a call to action for continued commitment to diversity principles, promoting inclusive business practices, and fostering thriving, diverse workforces.

Watch the June 27 webinar recording on demand (Nareit corporate members only).

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