A CEO Q&A with Bob Sulentic, President & CEO, CBRE Group, Inc.
General Statement on the 1st Anniversary of the Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation
The Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, especially the increased emphasis on commitment to communities, was very well timed. When the two crises of 2020 hit — the Covid-19 pandemic and the social unrest sparked by racial injustice — the Purpose galvanized BRT member companies into action. At CBRE, we used the Purpose to guide our response to both crises. These actions included an unprecedented fundraising effort in support of Covid-19 relief, holding our first companywide town hall to discuss racial inequality, creating a new Chief Diversity Officer role on our executive leadership team, and rolling out a global policy that amplifies our unequivocal stance against racial misconduct.
What is one new initiative or commitment your company has launched in the past year that you are particularly proud of?
The world faced an unprecedented challenge with Covid-19 and it was appropriate — and necessary — for CBRE’s response to be unprecedented, too. We have held company-wide fund-raising campaigns in response to humanitarian crises in the past. But nothing close to the scale or magnitude of our Covid-19 Relief Fund. Between a foundational donation from the company and our matching of our employees’ contributions, we raised more than $15 million to support local communities and our own people facing hardship. A significant portion of the funds was allocated to our market leaders so they could identify charities that would have the greatest impact on their communities. As a global company, it was important that our assistance reach people in need in every corner of the world.
What is one action pertaining to the Covid-19 response that you are particularly proud of championing as CEO?
I’m particularly proud of the way that our company rallied in support of their colleagues who are facing financial distress as a result of Covid-19. As of late July, we’ve awarded nearly 6,000 grants to CBRE people worldwide who are facing extraordinary expenses or struggling to meet day-to-day needs. These grants have been funded by monies we raised for our Covid-19 Relief Fund, including a foundational donation from the company and our matching of our employee’ contributions. The Covid crisis has brought out the best in CBRE and our efforts to assist our colleagues as well as our local communities is a great example.
What is one action pertaining to racial equity and injustice that you are particularly proud of championing as CEO?
Social unrest has cast a spotlight on racial injustice that has persisted in our society for too long and motivated us examine ways that we can further improve diversity and inclusion at CBRE. While we have made some gains in recent years, we have a lot more work to do, especially with increasing ethnic diversity in our management and brokerage ranks. This is a challenge that will take many years of effort to adequately address. We took an important step last month with the appointment of our first Chief Diversity Officer, Tim Dismond, who reports directly to me and has joined the 12-member Global Executive Committee that is responsible for running our company. We intend to give Tim the necessary resources and support to accelerate our progress with diversity and inclusion. This is a priority for me personally as well as for the company.