Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter

Commercial property has never been a particularly diverse field. An often-cited 2017 study by Bella Research Group and the Knight Foundation noted that more than 75% of senior executives of commercial real estate firms in the US were white men. Women rarely held a seat at the commercial real estate table–and people of color were practically non-existent among the C-suite. According to the study, just 1.3% of senior executives in the commercial real estate industry were black men.

Yet research has repeatedly shown that a diverse workplace not only makes good sense morally, it’s also a good business practice. At Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida (CPSWFL), we strive to develop and foster an inclusive workforce. We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) help to create and strengthen a collaborative and productive team.

Internationally, Cushman & Wakefield has a reputation for fostering diversity. The company’s DEI initiatives include employee resource groups for team members who are women, Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian or Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, or who have disabilities. In 2022 alone, Cushman & Wakefield was listed in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index and as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

DEI: The Moral Case and the Business Case

Although many of us think of “diversity” as a term that encompasses just gender or race, inclusivity goes beyond these boundaries. Yes, a diverse workforce employs people of different genders and ethnicities, but also those of different ages, sexual orientations, education levels, cultural backgrounds, physical abilities, religious beliefs and so on. Even more important, each of these individuals must feel valued, engaged and included in a truly diverse workplace.

Of course, inclusive teams are important because diversity is an indispensable social value–it is fair and just. However, as humans, we often naturally gravitate towards people who are most like ourselves, both in our social circles as well as in our workplaces. We simply relate better to people with similar life experiences to our own. While this tendency may be natural, this desire to be with others that resemble us can be a hindrance for businesses. A 2020 study by McKinsey & Company noted that the least diverse organizations were significantly more likely to achieve below-average profitability.

Why are diverse teams more successful at business? There are a number of reasons.

Diversity Improves Creativity and Decision-Making

Members of diverse teams hold different points of view and life experiences. When these individuals provide input on a business situation, the ideas they produce will reflect their experiences and backgrounds. This leads to a more nimble, creative and innovative organization. In fact, inclusive companies are nearly double as likely to be change-ready as their less diverse counterparts and are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders among their competition.

Diverse Teams Foster a Culture of Engagement

Have you ever been somewhere where you just didn’t “fit in”? Perhaps it was a social club, a neighborhood, a school or a workplace. When we don’t feel like we’re a valued part of something, we become less engaged. Companies that foster an inclusive environment, where different perspectives and experiences are valued, will also foster more engaged team members. Research conducted by Gartner indicates that inclusive environments correspond with higher on-the-job effort, employee retention and individual performance.

Diversity Helps Us Understand Our Customers

Spending time with people unlike ourselves helps to build empathy and stronger communication with one another, which also translates to more empathy and stronger relationships with our customers. Here in Southwest Florida, our residents come from a broad array of geographic and ethnic backgrounds. As commercial property brokers and property managers, we work closely with a wide range of clients: Owners, investors, tenants and vendors. The diversity of our team provides us with the cultural awareness needed to better understand these stakeholders’ wants and needs.

Diversity Leads to Better Talent

A 2020 study conducted by Glassdoor revealed that 76% of job seekers consider workforce diversity as an important factor when evaluating prospective employers. Additionally, one-third of job seekers said they wouldn’t even apply for a job at a company that had an apparent lack of diversity. In a time when employers are scrambling to attract and retain their team members, a diverse workforce may be just as important of an asset as competitive pay or a great benefits package.

Making Progress Towards a More Inclusive Industry

While there is still much room for improvement, the commercial real estate industry is making great strides in improving its DEI reputation. The first-ever global DEI survey of the commercial real estate industry notes that 92% of the firms surveyed had some type of DEI initiative in place. We are proud to be one of those companies that is a champion for DEI.

At CPSWFL, we are committed to promoting an inclusive, diverse and equitable environment for our team, not only because of the business advantages of DEI but because it’s the right thing to do. A diverse and thriving workforce fosters new perspectives, creativity and better problem solving for employees, partners and shareholders. This sets a positive example for the entire team, which permeates into the community.

Are you ready to work with a team that understands you? Contact the Commercial Property Experts at Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida. You can reach us by calling 239-489-3600 or by completing the form below.

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