The Leader Magazine

JUN 2019

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Right now in your profession there are people who are opting out of places where they can be fostering relationships, learning new skills, and making you money because they do not feel safe. When women have to choose where they show up because they are balancing safety with professional advancement, it costs them personally and professionally and companies lose. One woman mentioned that she had to choose whether or not to attend a national conference and trade show, where clients and companies attended together, because the risk of harassment and discrimination is so high. Her own past experiences had convinced her that trying to manage the risk was not worth the reward. These are places where social capital is built, networks are established and business is secured, but women are opting out because they will lose more to attend. While this largely speaks to the culture of the event, it's an even bigger reflection on the culture of the profession. If people do not trust that they are safe or supported, they have to do a cost-benefit analysis about attending professional events. It is worth taking a look at how your company is responding to this phenomenon to create awareness about what women, people of color, and those with different abilities or other identities have to navigate to be successful in a space that is not creating inclusion. Constructing a mental map of the contexts that people who are not white men have to operate within can create the type of empathy required to move toward inclusion. i s it dei – or CY a ? Finally, it became clear to us that most workplace efforts aimed at DEI were actually more CYA, or "cover your ass." While most organizations in your field have wording in their mission statements about diversity, equity and inclusion, these mission statements rarely permeate actual, daily interactions. This is something we see frequently at Inclusive Solutions. Well- intentioned people craft meaningful and important statements about DEI that are added to the company's website and quickly forgotten. At best, there is a workshop at a company retreat so leaders can check the box to say they provided some DEI training, but there is little, if any, follow-up, accountability or attempt to build the kinds of systems necessary to make true organizational change. At first glance, it might be commendable that companies are doing something rather than doing nothing, and this is true. But leaders risk losing trust among employees when they implement DEI initiatives without follow-through. The lack of a comprehensive plan comes across as a cynical attempt to protect the organization from a lawsuit rather than meaningful commitment to culture change. Many of the people we talked to view these one-off training efforts or an ignored mission statement as just "lip-service." In other words, even if the intentions were sincere, the impression was the opposite. To create meaningful engagement with employees, vendors and contractors, DEI needs to be an ongoing part of your culture. What is the next step? There is no end in sight to the increasing diversity your field is experiencing, and this is a good thing, if you're prepared. The competition for talent and retention in the coming years will require you to compete on a global scale across all races, ethnicities and identities. Research clearly shows that companies built on the diversity of its employees are more innovative, resilient and profitable. CRE professionals are uniquely positioned to lead workplace design and experience in a way that establishes themselves and the profession at the forefront of efforts to attract and retain a talented, diverse workplace. The more comfortable CRE professionals become with DEI efforts, the more they understand the quantifiable bottom-line drivers these initiatives produce, and the more they demonstrate their value, the more other corporate leaders and executives will come to value the work that CRE professionals do. We formed Inclusive Solutions because we were frustrated with one-off diversity trainings that made people feel good for a short period of time but did not actually move the needle with regard to real and lasting culture change. We recommend that the profession of corporate real estate take a similar approach, both internally and externally. Following are our suggestions on accomplishing this. 1. Make sure your internal mission, vision and processes are executed with diversity, equity and inclusion for everyone. These systems should be reviewed regularly by your staff. Engage the help of outside experts if you need to and make sure to ask how your DEI vision affects all aspects of your work. 2. Design for diversity. As CRE imagines the workplace of the future, you can design for transparency, trust and diversity in the office. Bring your creative, technical and problem-solving talents to bear in building out workplaces that work for everyone and allow your company to attract and retain the best talent. 3. Be an ally. Even if you do not personally experience discrimination, you need to foster a safe place and be a solid voice for those who do. Leadership should set the tone, example and expectations for those around them in ways that demonstrate the kind of organization you want to be and be a part of. If you are aware of harmful behavior, it is important to take measures to report or remedy the situation and support the person(s) being affected. 4. Advocate for education through your association. CoreNet Global showed great leadership by being host to Tarana Burke and Ronan Farrow at its Global Summit in Boston. But let's not stop the conversation there. Use your voice in your local chapters and with CoreNet Global to continue to push for education programs and initiatives at the association level. 5. Be reflective. Review how those with different experiences are moving up in the organization to dismantle any "ceilings" of their leadership potential and involvement. Have diverse folks at the table so there is diverse experience in the conversation. 12 JUNE 2019 th E l E ad E r Co-founders of Inclusive Solutions, d r. Josh Packard, left, is an organizational expert; Jessica Pettitt, center, is a diversity educator and trainer; and Megan Bissell is a researcher, facilitator and practitioner. 1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-06/u-s-women-outpacing-men-in-higher-education-demographic-trends 2. All names are pseudonyms

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