2021 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Zeller received the 2021 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award from CRE Insight Journal. The award was created to recognize a real estate company that has displayed excellence in fostering DEI within their organization.
Headquartered in Chicago, at the time of winning the award, Zeller owned and operated a growing portfolio of nearly 10.2 million square feet, with assets in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Zeller exhibited a strong commitment to DEI, as exemplified through its Zeller Diversity and Inclusion Committee (ZDIC), which has woven diversity and inclusion into the company’s DNA.
Founded in 2020, the ZDIC was created to foster a culture of mutual respect and to attract, retain, and promote team members from all backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities.
“At Zeller, we have a role to play in building communities that protect, serve, and support all citizens equally. Our employees leaned in and volunteered to create the Zeller Diversity and Inclusion Committee in July of 2020,” said Bradley Borowic, MSRE, ZDIC Co-Chair. “The ZDIC was formed on a grass roots level with support and encouragement from our company’s senior leadership.”
“The ZDIC consists of an overall committee with support from senior leadership,” explained Devin Simon, RPA, BOMI-HP, ZDIC Co-Chair. “There are two co-chairs with 20 to 23 ambassadors that help support all of our initiatives. The ambassadors are grouped into five subcommittees: Career Elevation, CRE industry Outreach, Education and Awareness, Strengthen Communities, and Enriching the Zeller Experience.”
- Career Elevation – The primary goal of the Career Elevation subcommittee was to develop mentorship and recruitment programs to attract, engage, hire, and retain a diverse and inclusive talent pool.
- Education & Awareness – The Education & Awareness subcommittee sought to make a positive impact through collaborative and multidisciplinary research prioritizing areas of great societal need.
- CRE Industry Outreach –This subcommittee was tasked with identifying and engaging in opportunities in the commercial real estate industry where Zeller could positively impact society and promote equity in the real estate industry. The members of this subcommittee engaged with several real estate industry organizations such as the Building Owners and Managers Association, Commercial Real Estate Women, Institute of Real Estate Management, and other organizations to help positively impact the industry.
- Strengthen Communities – The Strengthen Communities subcommittee focused on fostering a culture of civic engagement and increasing economic impact through charitable activities, volunteerism, and creating strategic partnerships, and vendor relationships.
- Enrich the Zeller Experience – This subcommittee promoted engagement among Zeller’s inclusive cultures and perspectives. Chaired by Zeller’s General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, its members served as chairs of the other subcommittees.
In 2021, the ZDIC worked with DEI consultants to ingrain diversity and inclusion throughout the company. They worked with the Ollie Group to help define, strategize, and execute the goals of each subcommittee. ZDIC’s accomplishments in 2021 included:
- Donated $10,000 each to 15 different charitable organizations across seven cities to support social justice efforts.
- Hosted four lunch and learn programs:
- “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say” with Dr. Maura Cullen
- “Codeswitching: Navigating the Dynamics of Workplace Norms” with Dr. Courtney L. McCluney
- “You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer” with Tsedale M, Melake, Ph.D.
- “Taking Control of Your Mental Health” with Fabiana Souze Araujo, Ph.D.
- Created a portal to provide DEI resources to Zeller employees and regularly posted relevant and timely DEI resources to various Zeller social media pages.
- Established the Zeller Responsible and Diverse Supplier Program, which provided access for procurement opportunities in an equitable and competitive environment and encouraged Zeller employees to proactively seek services from qualified businesses owned by minorities, women, differently abled persons, and veterans.