Benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion reach all the way to the bottom line
What do the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have to do with a property management company’s ability to reliably generate revenue? Everything, according to Neil Cadman, CPM®, president of Cadman Group based in El Segundo, California.
Cadman says the principles of DEI have had positive impacts on his business operations in a number of different ways. “We’re a better company overall because of embracing DEI,” Cadman says. “We connect with each other and our tenants better than we did before. And for me, it didn’t necessarily start as an intentional decision. I was always focused on hiring the best people for the job, and it’s from there that the move toward consciously adopting DEI practices began to take shape.”
There can sometimes be a perception that prioritizing DEI necessarily represents a challenge to a company’s revenue-earning potential rather than a boon. Some owners and real estate managers may see dedicating resources and pursuing DEI initiatives as a distraction from the more important work of managing their properties. However, that view often discounts or altogether disregards the underlying importance of all the individual people who make up any organization, even public corporations with operations around the world.
Lingering supply chain constraints still pose a major roadblock to a return to normal business operations at the individual firm level. Even more difficult is the human capital challenge of attracting and retaining talent. Largely set in motion by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation is offering plenty of valuable insights. One of the most critical lessons for organizations to learn is that they can no longer afford to see their employees as anything other than the mission-critical assets that they are. This is especially true in the case of property management companies.
Companies often miss the bottom-line impacts of their DEI efforts by treating their employees as just another important company resource rather than essential to the company delivering any value.
Furthermore, your onsite teams are the face of the management company to clients, tenants, and potential future hires. If these employees aren’t genuinely engaged when serving in such public-facing roles, it will be noticed.
Numerous studies have confirmed the link between investing in DEI and other employee-centric initiatives and improving the customer experience, ultimately boosting companies’ ROI. Data from Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report points to the same conclusions. According to the report:
- Companies that excel in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees.
- Companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%.
- Companies with especially engaged employees are 21% more profitable.
Walking the walk
Cultivating a company environment that supports healthy work relationships and a supportive and inclusive corporate culture can impact your bottom line in surprising ways. Getting to that point requires deep thought into how people interact with each other on a daily basis.
For Cadman, learning about DEI and incorporating it into his company’s corporate culture ultimately made him a better leader. “It’s allowed me to better understand my tenants and employees,” he said. “It’s opened my viewpoint to a different way of seeing the world,” which has helped him manage conflict resolution and other mission-critical leadership duties. “DEI is making me not only a more effective leader and better employer but also more developed as a person.”
As an organization, IREM honors the diversity of our communities. And it’s through that commitment to consistently providing value that professional real estate managers can make the biggest difference in the lives of all their stakeholders.
Cadman recalls that many of the positive impacts of his company’s DEI initiatives were unexpected. “Some of the biggest benefits we’ve seen have come from how we can better relate to our tenants. We primarily own and manage properties that serve renters in protected classes and other marginalized groups, which is very much reflected in our company makeup. Since we have a diverse company that so closely represents our tenants, that’s one less obstacle to achieving the all-important customer satisfaction.”
Cadman has found this to be true when securing buy-in for new company DEI efforts as well. “Everyone on my staff feels empowered to put our DEI principles into practice because they’ve come to see them as core values, right alongside the rest of our company’s core values,” Cadman says. “They know I want to hear differing perspectives on all the issues. Most importantly, they can feel that their efforts to advocate for our tenants are being supported by the organization from the top down.”
If your company is just beginning to consider incorporating DEI initiatives into its strategic planning, it’s important to understand it’s a journey that doesn’t necessarily have a final destination. “There’s always more to learn,” Cadman says. “Embracing DEI has continued to help me become a more well-rounded person. The moment I stop learning and evolving is when I’ll be six feet under.”
Equity for us means acknowledging that everyone starts from a different place. We elevate individuals by continuously being progressive in identifying and removing unintentional barriers that may impede access and success.
Inclusion for us means we will create an environment where individuals in our profession feel valued, respected, supported, and welcome to bring their authentic selves to IREM.