Dream calls its strategy one of the most ambitious of its kind in Canada, and the firm hopes it will serve as a model for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the real estate sector. The aim is to contribute to solving some of society’s most critical issues, including climate change and social equity.
Dream’s plan focuses on workforce development, creating jobs and training opportunities for equity-seeking groups — i.e., communities that identify barriers to equal access, opportunities and resources due to disadvantage and discrimination and actively seek social justice and reparation. This marginalization could be due to attitudinal, historic, social and/or environmental barriers based on age, ethnicity, disability, economic status, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation or transgender status — while also ensuring economic benefits for Indigenous communities.
“We have been intentional in creating ambitious yet achievable targets that will meaningfully transform our entire supply chain,” said Tsering Yangki, head of real estate finance and development at Dream, in the release.
Dream’s plan to reach its DEI goals
Dream is one of the first companies in Canada’s private sector to set quantifiable targets to meet such goals by 2025 and will start providing progress reports in 2022. Dream’s targets are as follows:
– 20 per cent of the annual value of all contracts will be awarded to local, independent and/or socially responsible businesses;
– 20 per cent of the annual value of all contracts will be awarded to businesses that are majority-owned or managed by an equity-seeking group;
– 20 per cent of annual jobs created through capital and operating spending will be filled by equity-seeking groups;
– 30 per cent of apprentice hours worked on development projects will be by equity-seeking groups.
Dream has been developing its strategy since 2015, when it engaged Algonquin-Anishnabe-owned construction firm Decontie Construction at its huge master-planned Zibi development in Ottawa. Decontie has provided Algonquin-Anishnabe construction workers with the training and certifications required to work on Zibi.
Dream has also enlisted Decontie to assist with several other projects, resulting in more than $7 million in contract value.
Sourcing 20 per cent of the annual value of all contracts to local and/or socially responsible businesses would alone account for millions of dollars for small firms, based on the contracts’ original estimates.
“Social procurement is more than just a business strategy,” said Pino DiMascio, head of impact, strategy and delivery at Dream, in the release. “It’s a cornerstone of Dream’s culture and values. From our consultants to our contractors, we are taking a very granular and transparent approach to ensure that diversity and inclusion is engrained in every decision and action we take.”
Dream’s new strategy will be implemented at every point of its projects’ lifecycles, including planning, design, sales, leasing, construction and property management.
The company also plans to create a first-of-its-kind, private-sector, open-source database of equity-seeking suppliers and local, independent and/or socially responsible businesses, which it will publish in early 2022. Other real estate companies will be able to use the database to create greater social equity within their own companies and communities.
Dream’s commitment to DEI
“As one of Canada’s leading real estate companies, we (embrace) creativity and diversity, passion and innovation, while positively impacting our communities and the world around us,” the company stated in a 2021 report.
“Our culture is one of belonging and we celebrate those experiences so that our people may thrive in an environment where Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement is at the forefront in everything we do. A culture of inclusiveness and treating one another fairly are important tools in helping us to build better communities.”
Dream will also implement a tracking, monitoring and reporting system in early 2022 to measure its progress and share its experiences. The company will work with suppliers and partners to help build capacity, recruit talent and gain experience.
It also plans to develop partnerships with suppliers who want to make a positive difference.
“Our ambitions go beyond just our immediate work at Dream,” said DiMascio in the release. “We want to improve the pipeline and create long-term pathways for equity-seeking groups, and independent and local businesses.
“By creating opportunities to network and learn, we hope that we can create an entire ecosystem around social procurement that drives local economic development and ultimately, creates healthier and more inclusive communities.”
Dream will implement its Social Procurement Strategy across the Dream Impact Trust and Dream Office portfolios, as well as Dream Unlimited’s mixed-use developments in Toronto and Ottawa, which range from boutique commercial heritage buildings to large-scale master-planned communities, including the Canary District, Zibi, the Distillery Historic District and the Broadview Hotel.
Toronto-based Dream is a leading developer of office and residential properties and generates assets in Canada and the U.S. The organization has $12 billion in assets under management.
Dream Office REIT is a real estate investment trust and office landlord in downtown Toronto with approximately 3.5 million square feet owned and managed.
Dream Impact Trust is an open-ended trust dedicated to impact investing. Dream Impact’s portfolio consists of real estate assets reported under development and recurring income.
The trust aims to create positive and lasting impacts for stakeholders through three impact verticals: environmental sustainability and resilience, attainable and affordable housing and inclusive communities.