Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been top of mind in the business world in recent years, including in multifamily. As one of the major goals of such initiatives, employee buy-in stands out as a key business driver.
“It’s about seeing yourself and seeing career paths—and seeing that your company is diverse,” says Cynthia Adams, senior vice president at Bridge Property Management, a Salt Lake City–based company with more than 50,000 units under management.
Adams, who is Mexican-American and oversees the Florida, Texas, and Arizona markets for Bridge, got her first job in multifamily as a college student when the management of her apartment building asked her whether she spoke Spanish and wanted to work in the office a couple of days a week in exchange for her rent being compensated. She jumped at the chance and fell in love with the industry, leading to a now 30-year career.
But she remembers starting out and not seeing a lot of people with a Hispanic background or women she could look up to. That’s one reason she thinks focusing on DEI for younger employees is crucial.
“Especially for our younger generation, I think it’s really important that they see diversity,” Adams says. They need to see themselves in their company’s leadership and older teammates to know they’re in the right place, she says.
Beyond inspiring younger employees, DEI initiatives can be a main driver of employee satisfaction.
Bridge Property Management started its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI+B) Committee in 2020 with a mission “to increase awareness at all levels of the organization and further promote diversity of ideas, equity in professional development, and a culture of inclusion that embraces everyone’s differences and involves all voices, and an employee experience of belonging, acceptance, connection, and value.”
The committee is made up of 18 members, with leadership and sponsorship from company executives. Groups provide networking opportunities for different communities within the company and celebrate diversity through companywide events, the company e-newsletter, and even podcasts. These employee groups include:
- Bridge Women’s Network;
- Black Inclusion Group;
- Bridge Allies for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders;
- Bridge Proud Ally LGBTQIA+;
- Unidos @ Bridge;
- Bridge Advocates for Accessibility; and
- Bridge of Honor Veterans Group.
And it all comes down to employee satisfaction and buy-in. “I just think that they’ll stay at the company longer,” Adams says of employees who have access to these types of groups and company leadership that show it cares about honoring diversity.
For smaller companies that might not have the resources or employee numbers that Bridge does, Adams suggests working with a regional or state apartment association to tap into the DEI groups and resources available there. Companies of any size can and should provide their employees with the connections and inspiration the Bridge initiatives are realizing, she says.
Adams adds that she’s glad Bridge works closely with Cox Communities for its technology needs because of the shared dedication to DEI to build a better future for all.
Learn more about the Cox commitment to DEI.