By John Howell
Jennifer Leitsch is Director of Corporate Responsibility for CBRE, the world’s largest real estate services company. Leitsch is a LEED Accredited Professional and a SASB FSA Credential holder, and has been trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Stakeholder Council, representing business enterprise while advising the GRI Board on strategic issues.
JH: CBRE has a history of supporting social and environmental practices. What’s behind the company’s commitment?
JL: We view CR as integral to our business—it generates growth and opportunity for both the company and the communities that we service.
JH: How do you convey that message?
JL: We’ve been issuing an annual corporate responsibility report since 2007. It’s an important statement about our mission: It’s developed along Global Reporting Initiative Standards, and includes our progress toward implementing the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.
JH: What value is CBRE looking for from membership in the CRA?
JL: As a longtime client of 3BL Media [CRA’s parent company—ed], we’re well aware of the value of consistent messaging. 3BL Media’s distribution has been very useful in communicating our corporate responsibility, so we signed up to the CRA to expand our ability to share best practices, participate in professional development, learn from Thought Leadership Council workshops and webinars, and, at a conference like COMMIT!Forum, to hear from companies that are completely different from ours about how they solve problems. It’s really important to escape the peer bubble to hear new ideas—it’s definitely a benefit of the CRA.
JH: A hallmark of your CR efforts is an emphasis on diversity, a focus that has been recognized by the major financial media. Fortune magazine has named CBRE as one of the best US workplaces for diversity, and Forbes added CBRE to its 2018 Best Employers for Diversity list, the only commercial real estate company to receive this honor. Where does this focus on diversity come from?
JL: People are at the center of our strategy. We know that diversity is a significant factor in attracting top talent. It’s just plain good business. As a commercial real estate business, CBRE is active in many communities, and it’s important that our workforce looks like the diverse population we service.
JH: How does CBRE support its diversity programs?
JL: We have seven employee network groups for those from different professional backgrounds. That helps us interact with clients of all different backgrounds. It also makes for a more fun workplace—we work hard to make our workplace a rewarding place for our employees.
JH: What does recognition for your CR activities mean to the company?
JL: One thing CBRE is excited about is being part of the CRA ratings and rankings Thought Leadership Council—it will help us measure our efforts and progress.
To learn more about CBRE’s CR programs, visit https://www.cbre.us/global/about/corporate responsibility