Though my current role at Duke Realty is as our vice president of corporate responsibility, my first fourteen years at the company were on the operations side, in logistics property management. Understanding tenant needs for both today and tomorrow, supporting them, and meeting our own corporate goals at the same time—these are the kinds of puzzles we at Duke Realty live to solve.
I love our tenants and I love our buildings—how different they are, both the people and the buildings, and how each tenant uses their building a little differently. And I love the challenge of thinking twenty moves ahead to figure out how to help.
Confronting challenges and planning for the future. Those are two of the big themes that echo through the past year, as well as throughout our 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report.
Taking Care of Our Planet—And Our Tenants
Consider, for example, our environmental efforts. Last year we began our commitment to pursue 100% LEED certification on every new Duke Realty building. We’re also working as a company to define short-, mid-, and long-term de-carbonization goals—and strategies to meet them. These are exciting steps that will help us not only better care for our planet, but also meet the future demands of tenants and investors.
As a logistics REIT, our buildings are net-lease structures, and our tenants control their own energy usage and gas consumption. So while we continue to ensure that our buildings are sustainably designed, we know we also need to keep working with our tenants to help them manage their energy usage to operate more efficiently and meet their own sustainability commitments.
Corporate responsibility, in this instance, is not just about achieving great numbers—though that’s exciting too. It’s about understanding the people and the companies we work with and planning on their behalf as well as our own.
Taking Care of Our People
Our social efforts this year focused on caring for our associates and our communities. Even as the country shut down, our associates worked hard, from home, to seamlessly meet our tenants’ needs. Understanding that our associates’ lives had also been turned upside down, our leadership and HR team kept in continuous touch with them to let them know our plans and provide any support they needed. Thanks to a well-established business continuity plan, during challenging circumstances our team had everything in place that helped us succeed.
We’re also proud of how our associates came together to help us improve our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts over the past year. We’ve been making determined progress on gender and racial equity at Duke Realty for years. But the continued discrimination and injustice laid bare last spring—and driven home by the protests of last summer—showed us that we need to keep up the conversation and our hard work.
During live, virtual panel discussions last summer attended by nearly 90% of our company, Duke Realty associates, leaders, and others in the industry shared their experiences with racial inequality. The stories we heard and the discussions we’ve had inform our efforts to further diversify our company–and our industry. Again, it’s about people—and better understanding how to plan for a more just and equitable future.
Taking Care of Our Company and Its Stakeholders
For Duke Realty, responsibility in governance is about looking out for the interests of our associates, our investors and our community while looking ahead to ensure we’re planning for tomorrow.
Last year, our continued efforts to maintain board independence and diversity were part of that story—and those efforts were strong. In 2020, our board was 92% independent and 50% diverse.
Another big story in governance is our corporate responsibility effort itself. Our leadership has made a continuous investment in ESG initiatives as one of our overall corporate goals—and that’s because we understand that taking good care of our tenants, our people and our community is an excellent strategy in preparing for uncertainty.
When I look at how well prepared our team was to meet the challenges of the past year, and how equipped they are to handle what lies ahead, I’m personally very excited to see what the future holds for our company.