96% of Commercial Real Estate Firms Have DEI Strategies; Firms Increasingly Focus on Scholarships and Internships

Almost all commercial real estate firms have diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in place in their organizations, with the number of firms adopting formal strategies increasing 5% year-over-year, according to the third edition of the Global Real Estate DEI Survey released today.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey shows almost 96% of firms have DEI policies and practices in place in their firms, with 56.4% enacting formal strategies. That marks a 5% YoY increase in firms approving documented, holistic DEI programs. Just 4.2% of firms do not have DEI programs or initiatives, the results reveal.

  • The Global Real Estate DEI Survey, now supported by 19 commercial real estate and related associations globally, tracked DEI practices and employee demographics at 216 firms and was conducted between July and September 2023.
  • The Survey represents 296,902 full-time real estate employees, $1.98 trillion of assets under management and a cross-section of the commercial real estate industry globally in terms of size, region and business type.

Key highlights from the Global Real Estate DEI Survey show 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 the year prior.

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 comprise Asia-Pacific, Europe, Canada and the US.

Note: YoY changes throughout could be the result of changes in the sample of responding firms.

Regional snapshots:

For US firms, which represent 69.5% of Survey respondents, key highlights include:

  • 41.4% of FTEs in commercial real estate in the US are women, while almost 30% of employees are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
  • The underrepresented race/ethnicity group with the highest percentage of FTEs is Asian (9.8%), followed by Hispanic/Latino (9.4%) and Black or African American (7.2%).Women in the US made gains at the most senior levels of commercial real estate in 2023, with women representing almost 26% of executive management positions up from 23% in 2022.
  • At the board of directors level, the representation of people of color increased more than 50% rising to almost 15% of all board roles – up from just 9% in 2022.
  • The top 10 roles held by men, women, white professionals and people of color are also listed. See 2023 Global Real Estate DEI Survey for more details.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey reports employee demographics for Canada for the first time.

For firms with employees in Canada, which represent 18.6% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 45.6% of all employees are women – the highest for any region surveyed. Data on ethnicity is not collected for Canada, Asia-Pacific or Europe.
  • 27.4% of board of director positions in Canada are held by women, the highest for any region.
  • Women at Canadian CRE firms comprised nearly half of all mid-level promotions (48.4%) and hires (47.6%) in 2023, exceeding the representation of women at that level of seniority.
  • Note that to increase the representation of women or people of color at any level of seniority, hirings, and promotions should materially exceed the baseline employee population for that group. See 2023 Global Real Estate DEI Survey for more details.

In Europe, which represents11.9% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 39.8% of all commercial real estate roles in Europe are held by women, with women making the most gains in 2023 at the executive management.
  • 25.4% of executive management roles are held by women, up from 12.9% in the year prior.
  • European firms also actively hired and promoted women for the most senior roles in their organizations in 2023. At the executive management and senior level, firms promoted and hired more women than was currently represented helping to move the needle on representation YoY. See 2023 Global Real Estate DEI Survey for more details.

In the Asia-Pacific region, which represents 8.9% of respondents, key highlights include:

  • 44.8% of employees are women, with Asia-Pacific firms 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. See 2023 Global Real Estate DEI Survey for more details.

Other key findings from the Global Real Estate DEI Survey Volume III include:

  • Budgets: Dedicated DEI budgets are increasingly important for improving representation by underrepresented groups. In 2023, 36.3% of firms had dedicated DEI budgets, up from 30.4% in 2022 – a YoY increase of 19%.
  • Dimensions of diversity: Nine out of 10 respondents address race/ethnicity/nationality within their DEI programs followed by gender, sexual orientation and age. More firms are also tracking family status in 2023 than in the prior year, while firms tracking mental health conditions has also increased.
  • Impact: Providing DEI-related training is the second most impactful DEI policy after creating scholarships and internships. One quarter of firms have seen training have the greatest impact on achieving DEI goals, up from 14.6% YoY.
  • Inclusion: Promoting inclusive social events is the most common strategy for promoting an inclusive work culture, with almost 9 out of 10 firms adopting the policy in 2023 or planning to implement it in the next 12 months.
  • Pay equity: CRE firms are working to increase the level of pay transparency at their organizations, with 62.9% analyzing gender pay gaps and 52.8% using redemption strategies. Pay equity initiatives being implemented include annual compensation review, benchmarking against industry data, using job bands to determine salaries and working with a third party to analyze pay levels.

Contacts:

About the Survey:

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey is a biannual report tracking corporate DEI practices and employee demographics for commercial real estate globally, across regions, company sizes and business types.

The Survey tracks gender, gender identity, race/ethnicity and age across seniority and job functions in the US as well as gender, gender identity and age across seniority in Asia-Pacific, Canada and Europe. It also provides insights into corporate practices in relation to DEI programs, recruitment, retention, training and development, inclusivity and pay equity.

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.

Many thanks to the 19 industry associations supporting the Global Real Estate DEI Survey volume III.

From CoreNet Global:

“The results of this year’s Global Real Estate DEI Survey reflect our association’s own efforts and desire to elevate the strategic importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the CRE space. CoreNet Global celebrates diversity and seeks to strengthen equity, inclusion, and accessibility throughout corporate real estate. We are proud to find ourselves among those with a formal DEI program in place including resources to help our members’ companies develop and support their own initiatives. We look forward to seeing the positive impact of continued awareness of DEI in business.” Angela Cain, CEO, CoreNet Global


Diversity Equity Inclusion