Physicians Realty Trust

Caption: Physicians Realty Trust logo

Physicians Realty Trust received the 2022 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award from Commercial Real Estate Insight Journal. The award was created to recognize a real estate company that has displayed excellence in fostering DEI within their organization. 

Physicians Realty Trust was founded in 2013. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the time of winning the award, the company managed approximately 290 properties across 36 states. 

Building from the Ground Up  

Physicians Realty Trust’s DEI Council was created in 2019, with responsibility for setting diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for the company; developing educational programs planning activities to promote DEI; and cultivating a culture of fairness and respect for all members of the company. The council, comprised of diverse members of the company, including individuals ranging from junior team members to executive leadership and the Board of Directors, was overseen by the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors. 

“Our DEI Council has had a profound effect,” said John T. Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer with Physicians Realty Trust. “For example, there’s no handbook on how to get through a global pandemic, but the fact that we had this group of leaders has been massive. It has made us a much better organization with each other and our clients.” 

Physicians Realty Trust also developed three sub-committees for its DEI Council focused on the themes of Attract, Include, and Support. Attract was created to prioritize strategies for attracting and retaining top talent through a diverse and inclusive workforce. Include was crated to foster intentional inclusion of diverse voices and backgrounds at all company meetings and events while sharing the unique stories and experiences of the team members. And Support was created to emphasize education and awareness of DEI themes. 

Physicians Realty Trust’s DEI efforts began with attracting and retaining top talent to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. The company’s DEI Council also worked closely with the company’s human resources team to develop a roadmap to recruit, retain, and support underrepresented populations. 

The company’s core values were centered around the acronym C.A.R.E. (Collaborate and Communicate, Act with Integrity, Respect the Relationship, and Execute Consistently). These values have been instrumental in further developing and enhancing the company’s DEI initiatives. 

“At Physicians Realty Trust, we stand at the intersection of our passion and our purpose as defined by our C.A.R.E. core values,” said Leann Mester, Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications with Physicians Realty Trust and Chair of the DEI Council. “We put these principles to work within our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts to drive accountability for our actions as we strive to make real, systemic change in our industry.” 

Strategies implemented by the company have included enhanced career development support for employees; ensuring equitable compensation and benefits; and intentionally creating an inclusive culture. 

Developing a DEI Network  

Physicians Realty Trust developed a company-wide online forum through its DEI Council to encourage engagement and participation in DEI initiatives. Additionally, the company’s DEI SharePoint hub provided transparency regarding the company’s steps to advance DEI principles. The site included a collection of resources related to race, mental health, and other topics as requested by team members; news surrounding upcoming staff events; educational opportunities; and more. 

Also, through a “Get to Know Your Team” section of their internal DEI hub, team members shared their unique stories and personal perspectives on Ramadan, Pride Month, Hmong culture, veteran and active-duty military team members, and more. The site also engaged the entire team, beyond DEI Council members, to share anonymous feedback, ideas, personal stories, and areas of concern. 

Through its company-wide DEI network, Physicians Realty Trust provided numerous opportunities for education and self-exploration, beginning with a requirement that team members participate in all-team sessions to increase awareness and knowledge of DEI. Team members were also given opportunities to participate in small group “coffee talk” discussions, service projects, and other exercises to address their concerns and tackle difficult questions in safe, welcoming, and comfortable spaces. 

Impacting Communities  

The Supplier Diversity Program was another key DEI initiative. Through Physicians Realty Trust’s national portfolio, the company partnered with diverse businesses through its capital purchasing throughout the country. 

Physicians Realty Trust also created a contract and supplier diversity manager position in 2021 and published three-year program goals for diversifying suppliers. Through the Supplier Diversity Program, the company planned to generate economic opportunities and create a positive impact within the communities served by the company.  

“Our company wanted to make sure that the vendors we do business with represent our community,” said Sydonia Blake, Contract and Supplier Diversity Manager with Physicians Realty Trust. “Last year, we had certified diverse vendors bid on services in Delaware, Georgia, and Connecticut, among many other projects, and we have an ongoing project in Phoenix for which we have invited two certified diverse vendors.” 

The company also committed financial resources to create a more diverse workforce pipeline within the health care real estate industry. In 2022, the company partnered with NAIOP Wisconsin and Marquette University to support the MKE CRE Summer Program, an in-person, week-long program for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors dedicated to helping provide knowledge about career opportunities in commercial real estate to high school students from underrepresented backgrounds. Additionally, Physicians Realty Trust funded scholarships to ensure a diverse group of students could participate, while company leadership lent their time and expertise towards mentoring these students. 

Through top-down investments in DEI, national support in diversifying contractor pools, development of a diverse workforce pipeline, the creation and maintenance of an internal DEI network for educational content and events, and working to elevate opportunities for underrepresented groups within commercial real estate, Physicians Realty Trust received the 2022 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from CRE Insight Journal.