The Impact of DEI in Commercial Real Estate

August 17, 2023 | By: Leann Mester

Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a core pillar of the value creation Physicians Realty Trust (NYSE: DOC) brings to our stakeholders, team members, and the 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.

In 2022, DOC’s commitment to DEI led to significant outcomes by focusing on collaboration, communication, integrity, and relationship-building. We focused on these through our Attract, Include, and Support DEI sub-councils.


The Attract sub-council conducted a comprehensive benefits review, resulting in the implementation of a wellness reimbursement program and an onboarding buddy program to support a sense of belonging. They also focused on increasing diversity in our pipeline through our summer internship program. One of the Attract sub-council’s signature efforts is the Milwaukee-based MKE CRE week-long summer real estate immersion program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds.

By providing scholarships to a diverse group of students, offering mentorship, and working to organize this program alongside NAIOP Wisconsin and Marquette University, DOC actively contributes to creating opportunities for underrepresented individuals to explore and thrive in the real estate sector.


The Include sub-council emphasized the intentional inclusion of diverse voices and backgrounds at DOC. They fueled content for a company-wide online intranet forum as a transparent space to communicate DEI initiatives, encourage feedback, and share personal stories. The forum’s team spotlight section facilitated understanding and created a sense of belonging by highlighting our team members’ individual and cultural experiences.

In the realm of supply chain management, DOC remains committed to supporting diverse-owned businesses and building stronger communities. Recognizing the value of a diverse supply chain, we actively seek partnerships with minority-, women-, veteran-, LGBTQIA-, disabled-, and historically underutilized-owned businesses.

To track our progress, we hired a Contract & Supplier Diversity Manager and began monitoring the number of diverse vendors used and spending with these suppliers. We have also implemented an outreach process to invite new and existing diverse vendors to bid on capital projects. Additionally, we collaborate with suppliers to track and monitor sustainability policies, aiming for enhanced decision-making and portfolio-wide reporting. Working with certified diverse vendors and suppliers promotes innovation and contributes to economic growth.


The Support sub-council prioritized education and awareness of DEI themes. They organized various programming, including all-team lunch and learn sessions, informal “Coffee Talk” discussions, and women in leadership discussions with a Board of Trustees member serving as our guest speaker. These initiatives provided opportunities for personal growth and encouraged open and safe conversations around DEI topics.

Finally, as a full Council, and in response to team feedback, we worked to offer wraparound tools for mental health and wellness through more than eight hours of mental health programming. These efforts included the introduction of app-based resources to help foster mental health and wellness; a new paid time off day for mental health; and resources surrounding observances of World Mental Health Day, Mental Health Awareness Month, and Stress Awareness Month.

DEI in the Commercial Real Estate Industry

DEI has the power to be a transformative force within the CRE industry, but it takes time and intention to be truly impactful. Implementing effective DEI strategies involves leadership commitment, establishing a diverse Council membership, creating a shared vision, setting goals, fostering transparency, and measuring outcomes.

At DOC, we recognize that our journey towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive company and CRE sector is ongoing. We strive to lead by example, drive positive change in the CRE industry, and work collaboratively to build a pipeline for CRE diversity. By remaining committed to our shared DEI vision, we believe we can make a meaningful difference and positively impact our team, clients, and the communities we serve.

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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.