CRE survey: 96% of firms have diversity & inclusion strategies

Good news on the progress of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the commercial real estate sector: according to the third edition of the Global Real Estate DEI Survey, which was released yesterday, 96% of CRE firms have DEI strategies in place.

Europe Employee Demographics by Gender & Seniority. Source: Global Real Estate DEI Survey

Almost all commercial real estate firms have DEI initiatives in place in their organizations, with the percentage of firms adopting formal, documented, holistic DEI programmes rising to 56.4%, an  increase of 5% on the previous survey conducted two years ago.

The survey, supported by 19 commercial real estate industry associations globally*, tracked DEI practices and employee demographics at 216 firms representing nearly 300,000 employees and $1.8 trillion of assets under management in different sectors and geographies.

The main takeaway from the survey is that globally commercial real estate firms are increasingly focused on attracting more underrepresented people to the industry as a whole, with 31.6% of firms saying the most impactful DEI policy in 2023 was creating scholarships and internships to increase diversity in candidate pools, up from just 18% of firms previously.

Providing DEI-related training is the second most impactful DEI policy after creating scholarships and internships. One quarter of firms say training has had the greatest impact on achieving DEI goals.

Nine out of 10 respondents address race/ethnicity/nationality within their DEI programmes, followed by gender, sexual orientation and age. More firms are also tracking family status in 2023 than before and the tracking of mental health conditions has also increased.

In terms of employee demographics, headline data shows the representation of women in commercial real estate ranged from 39.8% to 45.6% across the four regions surveyed, which are Asia-Pacific, Europe, Canada and the US.

In Europe, 39.8% of all CRE roles are held by women, who have made the most gains in 2023 in climbing the ladder. Over a quarter (25.4%) of executive management roles are held by women, a sharp increase from the 12.9% recorded in the last survey. European firms also stood out for their active hiring and promotion of women for the most senior roles in their organization, the survey finds. Over four in ten promotions among executive managers were of women.

In the US 41.4% of full-time employees are women and almost 30% of employees are from under-represented racial or ethnic groups. Ethnic minorities now hold 15% of board director roles, up from 9%.  

In the Asia-Pacific region 44.8% of employees are women and firms have been actively promoting more women to executive management roles and hiring women to mid-level roles in 2023. Similar to other regions, the proportion of women declines as we move up the organizational hierarchy, from women representing 52% of roles at the junior level to 41.9% at the mid-level and gradually decreasing to 17.3% at the board level.

* The Global Real Estate DEI Survey is conducted in partnership with 19 commercial real estate industry associations and Ferguson Partners. The associations include AFIRE, AIA, APREA, AREF, BOMA, BPF, CFMA, CoreNet Global, CREFC, EPRA, NAIOP, NAREIM, NCREIF, OSCRE, PFA, PREA, RICS, REALPAC and ULI.