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Strong Ethics, Strong Business

IREM and other organizations put a worldwide premium on ethical principles.

By Nancye Kirk
IStock 1129129607

Four real estate companies, including CBRE, which holds the AMO accreditation from IREM, have been recognized among the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute.  The three other real estate organizations so honored, among the 128 companies from 21 countries, were JLL (for the 12th consecutive year) and Realogy Holdings Corp. (for the eighth year), both from the United States, plus DTGO Corporation of Thailand.

For CBRE, 2019 marks the sixth consecutive year it has made the list. In commenting on receiving the recognition, Bob Sulentic, president and CEO of CBRE, had this to say:  “Our clients trust CBRE’s professionals to deliver outstanding outcomes and service, while holding ourselves to the highest standards. Our continued recognition by the Ethisphere Institute exemplifies how important these values are to the company’s strategy and our success.”

Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. For its annual recognition, companies are evaluated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program, culture of ethics, corporate citizenship and responsibility, governance, and leadership and reputation. The program reinforces the increasingly important role of ethical business practices throughout the world and raises up those companies in whom clients, customers, employees, communities and all other stakeholders can put their trust.

For IREM, ethics has been at the cornerstone of the association since its founding 85 years ago. IREM further advances the importance of ethical business practices among real estate companies at a global level through participation on the International Ethics Standards Coalition (IESC).  Through the IESC, a global set of high-level ethical principles have been created in the land, property, construction, infrastructure and related professions. The resulting International Ethics Standards help ensure consistency and clarification irrespective of differences in economic or business practices. The International Ethics Standards speak to professional obligations with respect to:

  • Accountability
  • Confidentiality
  • Conflict of interest
  • Financial responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Lawfulness
  • Reflection
  • Standards of service
  • Transparency
  • Trust

These standards have been incorporated into the IREM Code of Professional Ethics and the AMO Code of Professional Ethics. Both codes require IREM Members and Member Companies “to acknowledge the ethical principles as set forth in the International Ethics Standards established by the International Ethics Standards Coalition of which the Institute is a member.”

Joe Greenblatt, CPM, of San Diego, is IREM’s trustee on the IESC and has participated in the coalition since its founding meeting at the United Nations in 2014. The underlying premise of the IESC, says Greenblatt, “is the conviction that behaving ethically is at the core of what it means to be a professional. This is what truly distinguishes professionals from others in the marketplace.”

All IESC members agree that the creation of one overarching set of ethical principles is helping real estate and related professional organizations better promote values that allow ethical business to flourish. Like IREM, the coalition believes that embracing ethical business can bring commercial benefits to individuals, businesses, their stakeholders and wider society, and there is evidence to support this. Indeed, Tim Erblich, CEO at Ethisphere Institute, notes that “companies that embrace diversity of thought, people and cultures; operate with simple clear policies based on values and trust; respect and enhance the communities in which they operate; and promote transparency will achieve better financial performance,” a theory he refers to as the “Ethics Premium.”

In other words, good ethics is good business. 


Issue: May/June 2019  

Journal of Property Management

Nancye Kirk ( is chief strategy officer at IREM Headquarters in Chicago.

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