Turning ESG Intention into Action


2023 CREW Network Research Paper: How to Advance Women and Other Underrepresented Groups in Commercial Real Estate Through Environmental, Social, and Governance Action


Companies spend billions annually on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) but the efforts overall have been underwhelming, including in commercial real estate (CRE). ESG factors have become increasingly important in the industry, impacting every stage in a property’s lifecycle. Stakeholders—including investors, governments, tenants, and service providers—are weighing ESG in their decision making.

Prioritizing ESG can drive growth and profitability. Research by McKinsey & Company indicates financially successful companies that integrate ESG priorities into their growth strategies outperform their peers. The August 2023 analysis shows that companies that achieve better growth and profitability than their peers while improving ESG outgrow their peers and exceed them in shareholder returns.

The focus of CREW Network’s 2023 research paper is the Social piece of ESG because the emphasis on gender equity, pay parity, and diversity—particularly in management positions—is critical to the advancement of women and other underrepresented groups in the industry.  

Key research insights

Within CRE, ESG in general hasn’t gained a firm foothold across the board. According to a July 2023 survey of 1,028 commercial real estate professionals, CREW Network found that: 

  • 1 in 3 CRE professionals reported they know very little or nothing about ESG, while a little more than half said they knew enough to get by
  • 75% said that ESG is somewhat or very important to their companies
  • 38% said their company is actively executing an ESG plan or strategy; however, 64% do not regularly report on ESG data or progress
  • 24% indicated that ESG is not at all important to their company, with the majority (64%) of those respondents saying it simply isn’t a business priority

Global research indicates companies that embrace ESG, particularly the S component, will gain the business advantage. CREW Network research indicates that while 75% of industry professionals consider ESG to be important in their companies, there is still much work to be done in executing an ESG strategy and aligning those efforts with advancing women and other underrepresented groups.

Those who are most successful will be those who rise to the ESG challenge with an eye on today and the future. With planning, listening, intentionality and foresight, your company can become a leader in supporting ESG efforts—and improve our workplaces and communities.
Action guide

The publication includes an action guide with tangible ways for companies to move ESG forward, and for women and other underrepresented groups to leverage ESG and DEI efforts to advance, gain parity, and find success in the industry.

How you can help

There are four actions all of us can take to help advance women and elevate ESG in the industry:

  1. Share this research with your company leaders, including ESG and DEI leaders, and top executives
  2. Share it on social media
  3. Plan an event or program to share the research
  4. Partner with other industry and business organizations to host an event/program on this topic in your market. CREW chapters and members can leverage a marketing toolkit and other promotional items here.

About CREW Network

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network is the world’s leading producer of research on gender and diversity in commercial real estate. It develops industry research to provide valuable insights and data focused on advancing gender equity and diversity and inclusion. CREW Network accelerates success for all women in commercial real estate globally and provides support to more than 13,500 members through business networking, leadership development, industry research, and career outreach.  
This research paper was developed with support from the CREW Network Industry Research Committee and Industry Research Program Partner Capital One. Help advance our research efforts by donating to the CREW Network Foundation Industry Research Fund.

Special thanks to our Industry Research Program Partner

Industry research contact:
Laura Lewis
CREW Network Chief Communications Officer
+1 (785) 856-8275

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