The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), the organization behind the WELL Building Standard and WELL ratings, has launched a new rating to help organizations advance their diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and accessibility goals as well as boost their company culture and employee health.
The WELL Equity Rating will provide an evidence-based road map for organizations to better address the needs of marginalized and underserved populations and take an action-oriented approach to creating equitable, people-first places. The rating includes over 40 features spanning action areas around user experience and feedback; responsible hiring and labor practices; health benefits and services; supportive programs and spaces; and community engagement.
“Organizations worldwide are embracing the powerful role place can play in leveling the playing field and ensuring everyone feels welcome, seen, and heard,” said IWBI president and CEO Rachel Hodgdon. “Many organizations have made commitments to DEI, but precious few have a road map for activation. The WELL Equity Rating is a transformative new offering that empowers organizations to make good on their promises—with evidence-based strategies and actions that improve and strengthen company culture, advance DEI goals, and address disparities in underserved populations.”
Over 30 organizations representing a variety of sectors, including multifamily, have enrolled to pursue the WELL Equity Rating across over 1,000 locations. Multifamily-related firms include AvalonBay Communities, Empire State Realty Trust, Ivanhoé Cambridge, JLL, and Veris Residential.
“Ivanhoé Cambridge is proud to be part of the early adopters of the WELL Equity Rating. As a responsible real estate leader, we look at our spaces through both the investor and the employer lenses,” said Sunita Mahant, head of social impact and inclusion. “Our participation solidifies our commitment to creating inclusive spaces. When people walk into our buildings, we want them to feel a sense of belonging. This starts with our own employees—which is why we are kicking off our involvement with our own headquarters in Montreal.”
The IWBI has been collaborating with its Health Equity Advisory for two years to gain knowledge and expertise in health equity, DEI, community building and belonging, and accessible design for the rating. In addition, the development process included feedback from others with lived experience who represent the target populations prioritized by the rating.
“By driving accountability and action, the WELL Equity Rating will serve as an important tool to help organizations actualize their DEI commitments, live their values, and effect lasting change,” said Dr. Angelita Scott, director and community concept lead at IWBI, who served as the principal architect of the rating. “We are so grateful to all our advisors and stakeholders from around the world with different backgrounds, expertise, and lived experiences who supported this effort. It’s because of their vision, input, and dedication that we were able to create a third-party verified solution that will uplift historically excluded voices, enhance environmental, social, and governance performance, and improve organizational outcomes.”