Developing Your DEI Program

August 9, 2023 | By: Leann Mester

At Physicians Realty Trust (NYSE: DOC), embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a core pillar of the value creation we bring to our stakeholders, team members, and communities we serve. We see this value creation through DEI as a type of return that takes many forms, including more resilient business operations, improved environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes, and increased societal well-being. We embody these efforts in our Invest in better® mission, which drives our nationwide team to greater heights every day.

DOC’s DEI Journey

Our formal DEI journey began in 2019 when our President and CEO, John Thomas, initiated the establishment of our DEI Council. Our work started by acknowledging the significance of DEI, defining what it means to our team, and establishing a robust DEI program to foster a culture of fairness, respect, and opportunity for all members of the DOC team and our partners.

The primary objectives of our DEI Council include setting ambitious goals, developing educational platforms, creating a commercial real estate (CRE) leadership talent pipeline, planning activities to promote DEI at all levels of the organization, and cultivating a culture of inclusivity. The Council has a diverse membership, including representatives from junior team members to executive leadership. This diversity of age and responsibility levels facilitates the creation of shared perspectives and ensures representation from various backgrounds.

A Roadmap for Developing DEI Programming

Developing an authentic and successful DEI platform requires time, intention, and sensitivity. Here are some ideas to consider when building a program in your workplace:

  1. It Starts with Leadership: One of the reasons that our DEI programming has been so successful is that we have the support of our leadership team. By securing executive sponsorship of DEI, we have a voice in leadership discussions and ensure that our goals are supported by action. A great place to start building your case for DEI is the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion website (linked at the end of this article), which provides a pledge statement to create buy-in, activities, and resources through peer-led committees.
  2. Form a DEI Council: Activate your most important resource—your team. Ensure intentional representation across as many diversity dimensions as possible, including departments, ages, experience levels, race, beliefs, backgrounds, and gender. Engaging a member of senior leadership as an executive sponsor also boosts visibility and buy-in.
  3. Create Your “Why” as a Team: Establish a shared mission and vision for DEI within your organization. By creating a mission statement and a compelling “why” that resonates with your team, you cultivate a united purpose that guides success. For example, our shared vision at DOC is to create a safe space for open, honest, thoughtful, and respectful conversations. By offering memorable, meaningful opportunities for engagement, we advance our goals and create true belonging for our team members.
  4. Establish Working Groups: Create specialized sub-councils focused on specific aspects of DEI, such as talent attraction, inclusion, and education. This step empowers team members to drive lasting change in the areas in which they are most passionate. At DOC, we established three sub-councils that act as the working groups for the larger body: Attract, Include, and Support, each focused on a specific aspect of DEI.
    • Our Attract group concentrates on strategies for attracting and retaining top talent through a diverse and inclusive workforce.
    • The Include group prioritizes the intentional inclusion of diverse voices and backgrounds, fostering an environment that celebrates differences.
    • The Support group emphasizes education and awareness of DEI themes, ensuring that all team members have access to opportunities for personal growth.
  5. Set Goals and Measure Success: Annually, our sub-councils decide on initiatives based on Council members’ passion projects and team feedback from an anonymous engagement and belonging survey. This work ensures the Council’s alignment with team interests, promotes meaningful educational experiences, and establishes a baseline for DEI sentiment.
  6. Transparency is Key: Foster a hyper-focus on transparency at every step of your journey to ensure that DEI programming feels like a collaborative effort toward shared goals. Consider creating an intranet hub to share Council meeting notes, action items, member contact information, and educational articles. Openly communicate progress and challenges.
  7. Reporting and Measuring Outcomes: Regularly present DEI reports to senior leadership, any Board committees, and your full Board, if applicable. This level of visibility encourages engagement, accountability, and the fulfillment of DEI goals.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are instrumental in fostering innovation and problem-solving by incorporating diverse perspectives and experiences. Internally, DEI enhances talent acquisition and retention, attracting top talent while increasing team engagement and belonging. Ultimately, a fair, inclusive, and thriving workplace that values DEI contributes to financial success and taps into our team members’ full potential while working toward a more equitable society.

Physicians Realty Trust received the 2022 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award from CRE Insight Journal. This award recognizes a real estate company that has displayed excellence in fostering DEI within its organization. Here’s how you can apply for the 2023 CRE Insight Journal Awards today.

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