Since I joined Cushman & Wakefield in mid-2017, we have come a long way with recruiting, retaining and creating a welcoming workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer/Question (LGBTQ+) people throughout the Americas. After being recruited and starting in our Washington, DC office, I remember being discouraged that there was no formalized employee resource group (ERG) for the LGBTQ+ community. While I always felt safe being myself at work, I longed to create an environment where all employees, in every office, could be a part of a network with other liked-minded individuals. I luckily came across our group’s Yammer page, which had roughly 20 people who felt the same way – passionate about making Cushman & Wakefield the most welcoming workplace in commercial real estate. After joining the conversation online, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Charles McClellan and Dane Hites, both of whom would be pivotal in the creation of what would eventually become UNITY, the firm’s LGBTQ+ ERG.
Charles, Dane and I spent the next year having countless meetings to discuss what our hopes for UNITY would be and how we would go about achieving them. We were fortunate to have a large amount of support from our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team and our executive leadership team, specifically Adam Stanley, who is UNITY’s Executive Sponsor and Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Chief Information Officer. Since officially launching UNITY in March 2018, our group has accomplished several large initiatives, including allowing employees to self-identify as a member of the community (allowing us to better understand the needs of LGBTQ+ members of our team), implemented a gender pronoun option in email signature blocks to increase visibility, and have held several formalized LGBTQ+ Pride Month activities in cities across the Americas.
While I am proud of those accomplishments, the one I am most proud of is Cushman & Wakefield scoring 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index and being recognized as a best place to work for LGBTQ employees. I took the lead with the submittal, partnering with our HR department, benefits team, and multiple D&I professionals over the course of four months to gather the appropriate documentation that proved that we met the stringent requirements set by HRC. Seeing our name on the list, along with 700 other globally recognized company continues to be one of the proudest days of my career at Cushman & Wakefield, and validated many of the changes Charles, Dane and myself implemented in the first year of UNITY’s existence.
While we have done so much at a corporate level in the past year, UNITY still has more work to do to increase visibility and provide an open-minded support system for our LGBTQ+ and ally community in our over 230 offices in the Americas. We will continue to work this year on introducing new tools to ensure we are the employer of choice for LGBTQ+ individuals within the CRE community, recruiting more members (especially allies) and engaging with our more than 400 members through more programming and participation. We recently brought on four new individuals to our national executive team to help organize and drive our chapters forward and to develop an ally program to encourage more members of the firm to educate on how to help LGBTQ+ co-workers. We are also planning an international expansion, partnering with our UK and EMEA counterparts on the roll-out and development of UNITY in those markets.
The future continues to be bright for UNITY and I am thankful to work for a company that truly values and embraces diversity of all kinds, and which allows me to bring my full self to work every day. I am also appreciative of those who came before us to fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We will continue to embrace the same spirit and passion so that every LGBTQ+ employee at Cushman & Wakefield has a family in the workplace.