Structured DEI Leadership


Create DEI governance structure to drive sustainable organizational change with streamlined internal and external communication.


iStar appointed a Head of Inclusion and created two governing bodies to oversee DEI matters, an ESG Advisory Council encompassing a broad range of environmental, social and governance topics and a Cultural Equity Council (CEC) focused exclusively on diversity, equity and inclusion. Each council includes two C-suite members and a range of colleagues from different disciplines, with quarterly Board of Directors integration.

The 12-person Cultural Equity Council meets monthly with an external DEI consultant in attendance, publishes its annual goals and provides progress updates as well as DEI insights and guidance in a bi-monthly journal. The CEC recently launched a Listening Tour to further solicit and incorporate firm-wide input. Additionally, 100% of employees participated in company-wide diversity training in 2020.


Early feedback to our DEI efforts has been largely positive, with internal DEI survey scores reflecting an improvement of 9% or greater in 9 out of 15 categories from September 2020 to April 2021, including double digit increases in the two categories deemed highest priority. iStar now exceeds survey partner Emplify’s global benchmarks in 12 out of 15 categories, while matching in two others. External ratings agencies have also recognized iStar’s progress, including a recent ISS ratings improvement from a 9 to a 3 in the Social category (on 1-10 scale, 1 being the best).


One of the keys to a successful DEI strategy is setting up structured communication channels to ensure a fluid exchange of information between appointed DEI leaders, colleagues and external stakeholders. While DEI leadership must come from the top, the ultimate success of a DEI program hinges on engagement from all corners of an organization. Diversity of perspective is an essential ingredient that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jay Sugarman
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