Pride in Our CREW
As we celebrate Pride Month, it seems a perfect opportunity to reflect upon what CREW DC has done to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within our chapter and within the industry as a whole. We have taken deliberate, strategic top-down steps – aiming for real and lasting change.
In early 2018, CREW Network’s global board articulated a clear DEI goal as part of the 2019 strategic plan. “CREW Network will be the global thought leader regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in commercial real estate.”
Similarly, in 2019 CREW DC’s Strategic Plan identified inclusion as one of our 5 core goals. (Engage, Include, Develop, Foster and Sustain).
In 2020 we increased the number of seats on the CREW DC Board ensuring we have sufficient leadership opportunities for members – regardless of ethnicity, age, years of experience, sexual orientation, or qualified field of CRE. Now half of our board self identifies as racially diverse – up from zero five years ago. We benefit daily from the expansive perspectives our Board members provide.
Beginning in 2020, CREW Network hosted DEI training opportunities, curated DEI resources, developed a DEI Playbook, and updated existing CREW policies and procedures through a DEI lens. These resources continue to be available to all members through CREWbiz.
Also in 2020, CREW DC formed an Anti-Racism and Equity sub-committee as a member-driven response to the social unrest our nation experienced that summer. They created our ongoing Leading with Learning series: a race and equity reading circle initially exploring the themes of Black experience, racism, and anti-racism. In 2022 we are exploring and connecting the challenges of racism with the history and reality of commercial real estate. All conversations are conducted in a trust-based space for learning, discussion, and relationship building. More than 200 members and non-members have participated in these discussions.
In early 2022, CREW DC hosted an Anti-Black Racism Workshop offering members an opportunity for more in-depth reflection and learning. This year the subcommittee merged with the DEI Council, serving as a resource for all committees and ensuring we view our plans and actions with a DEI lens. This includes ensuring diverse panels and speakers, using accessible venues in a variety of neighborhoods within our city, procuring goods and services from local and/or diverse suppliers, prioritizing a diverse range of recognition for holidays, annual celebrations, and sensitivity to the intersectionality in our membership and in commercial real estate through social media and event planning.
In 2021, CREW DC engaged a consultant to provide chapter leadership training focused on bias and intentional action required to build an inclusive organization, to help move committees into action on DEI tactics and goals. We are proud that our actions have resulted in improved diversity, equity, and inclusion in membership and leadership. Tools for measuring progress in all dimensions of diversity continue to evolve. One measure is how members choose to self-identify their race. In 2022, 29% of self-identified members chose something other than White/Caucasian. That is up from 22% four years ago. We encourage ALL members to self-identify in CREW’s confidential member database along ALL dimensions we currently track, including gender and sexual orientation. Help us assess progress toward inclusion along every dimension we measure.
For the commercial real estate industry to become more diverse, CEOs must commit to achieving diversity, equity, inclusion, and parity. In September 2021, CREW Network launched the CRE Pledge for Action. More than 100 companies have signed on and the list is growing. Our pledge supports the advancement of women and other individuals in underrepresented groups, including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, religion, and age. The essential component of the pledge is corporate action to change the industry – not just corporate talk about change in the industry.
And finally, you don’t have to be a CEO to drive change. Every one of us can make a difference every day. Embrace unconscious bias training to see others’ perspectives more clearly. Be intentional about dimensions of diversity when assigning duties and building teams. Join in an upcoming Leading with Learning discussion. Participate in a CREW Network “Voices at the Table” discussion. Education is one of the best first steps we can take.
But after education is action. Don’t wait for our industry to change – join us in our mission. We need everyone on board.
Our CREW’s PRIDE is People Respecting Individuality & Diversity Everywhere.
Stephanie Duncan - CREW DC President
Chief Operating Officer, Stonebridge