Dionna Sallis, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Ferguson Partners, participated in a video interview at Nareit’s REITworks: 2023 Conference in Las Vegas on June 28-29.
Sallis noted that one of the biggest challenges in terms of defining company DEI targets is “riding the popularity wave instead of being grounded in… intentionality.” She stressed the need to “start with why”: why is the work important, why do you have these goals in place, and why are you moving forward with this strategy. “When you start there, everything else can cascade in a stronger foundation.”
One of the biggest challenges that companies are facing when addressing DEI strategies is being afraid of the numbers, Sallis said. In order to truly create a strategy that will drive change, a company must start with the data, even if it is bad. “Shifting historical norms isn’t going to happen overnight,” she added.
Meanwhile, Sallis noted that DEI efforts have shifted from a focus on recruiting diverse talent to now focusing on retaining, developing, and promoting that talent. She referred to the change as DEI 2.0. “We already know what’s working and what needs to be in place, but now how do we take it another layer to truly drive change?”