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IWBI Launches the WELL Equity Rating to Advance Organizations and Places Where “Everyone Feels Welcome, Seen and Heard”

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) announced today the launch of the WELL Equity Rating, a new rating designed to help organizations act on their diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility goals, and improve company culture and employee health. Over 30 leading organizations – including AvalonBay Communities, Canderel, Empire State Realty Trust, JLL, Overbury, Shaw Industries and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry – have already enrolled in the rating, demonstrating their commitment to creating places where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.

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By providing an evidence-based roadmap, the WELL Equity Rating empowers organizations to better address the needs of marginalized and underserved populations and take an action-oriented approach to creating equitable, people-first places. The rating includes more than 40 features spanning six action areas: user experience and feedback, responsible hiring and labor practices, health benefits and services, supportive programs and spaces, and community engagement. The rating validates an organization’s actions to advance health and well-being; celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and accessibility; and promote sensitivity while addressing disparities in populations that have been traditionally marginalized or underserved.

“Organizations worldwide are embracing the powerful role place can play in leveling the playing field and ensuring everyone feels welcome, seen and heard,” said Rachel Hodgdon, President and CEO, IWBI. “Many organizations have made commitments to DEI, but precious few have a roadmap for activation. The WELL Equity Rating is a transformative new offering that empowers organizations to make good on their promises— with evidence-based strategies and actions that improve and strengthen company culture, advance DEI goals and address disparities in underserved populations.”

For two years, IWBI has been collaborating with its Health Equity Advisory, learning from more than 200 participating expert Advisors from 26 countries. A prestigious group of more than 40 co-chairs led the Advisory, lending their tremendous knowledge and expertise in health equity, DEI, community building and belonging, and accessible design. The development process also included feedback and input from others with lived experience who represent the target populations prioritized by the rating. These include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other people of color), first-generation immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, primary caregivers and people who are physically disabled and/or neurodivergent.

“Equity and health go hand-in-hand. This rating is all about making equitable opportunity actionable, designing healthier places that are accessible to everyone, and delivering on the promise of a global culture of health and belonging,” said Kimberly Lewis, Executive Vice President of Equity, Engagement and Events, IWBI. “Because, as we know, equity is the very foundation to healthier, stronger and thriving organizations.”

Multiple studies show that employees in diverse and inclusive workplaces are more likely to innovate, enjoy their jobs, work harder, and ultimately stay with their employers for longer. Diverse organizations have also been found to be 1.32 times more productive and 21 percent more profitable than their peers. The WELL Equity Rating offers organizations a tangible path forward to help them follow through on their DEI commitments and transform how workplaces are designed, managed and operated to create environments where everyone can thrive and show up as their authentic selves.

Coinciding with the launch, in a show of leadership, over 30 organizations representing a variety of different sectors have already enrolled to pursue the WELL Equity Rating across over 1,000 locations.

They include:

  • AHA Consulting Engineers
  • AvalonBay Communities
  • Buro Happold
  • Canderel
  • Chinachem Agencies Limited
  • Delos LLC
  • ECOS
  • Empire State Realty Trust
  • Epsten Group
  • Full Circle Design Services
  • Ivanhoé Cambridge
  • JLL
  • Landsec
  • M Moser Associates
  • Menarco Development Corporation
  • NEO
  • Neovalue
  • Overbury
  • Resilient Buildings Group
  • Shaw Industries Group, Inc.
  • Shearman and Sterling
  • Simpson Coulter Studio
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Sustainable Investment Group LLC (SIG) - Green Building Holdings
  • The Green Engineer
  • Tuolumne County
  • Veris Residential
  • Woonerf

Equity is a core tenet of the WELL Building Standard; the majority of the features in the WELL Equity Rating were drawn from existing WELL strategies, each backed by research that demonstrates more equitable outcomes for one or more of the target populations. With the help of the Health Equity and WELL Concept Advisories, IWBI also developed new beta features and parts to strengthen the new offering. This new designation will add to the suite of IWBI offerings that includes the WELL Health-Safety Rating and the WELL Performance Rating. Each rating can be earned as a stand-alone designation or milestone toward a place-based WELL Certification or an organization’s WELL Score.

“By driving accountability and action, the WELL Equity Rating will serve as an important tool to help organizations actualize their DEI commitments, live their values and effect lasting change,” said Dr. Angelita Scott, Director and Community Concept Lead at IWBI, who also served as principal architect of the rating. “We are so grateful to all our advisors and stakeholders from around the world with different backgrounds, expertise and lived experiences who supported this effort. It’s because of their vision, input and dedication that we were able to create a third-party verified solution that will uplift historically excluded voices, enhance ESG performance and improve organizational outcomes.”

In September, IWBI’s Governance Council, the leadership body tasked with upholding the integrity of WELL through rigorous standard development criteria, unanimously ratified the WELL Equity Rating. The Governance Council is made up of distinguished global thought leaders, doctors, public health professionals and business executives, such as Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th U.S. Surgeon General; Cheryl Durst, President and CEO of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA); Dr. Yao Wang, Director General of the International Institute of Green Finance; Alison Omens, Chief Strategy Officer at Just Capital; Mona Naqvi, Global Head of ESG and Capital Markets Strategy at S&P Global; and Nancy Roman, President and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America.

Here’s what some early adopters are saying about the WELL Equity Rating:

"ESF's commitment to the WELL Equity Rating was a resounding ‘yes’ as we work to improve and provide equitable access to the health and well-being of our campus. The rating will guide us in acknowledging populations that have been traditionally underrepresented and promoting inclusivity while celebrating the diversity that makes this campus so vibrant and successful," said SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Joanie Mahoney. "We appreciate IWBI's work and guidance in creating this rating and continuing to lead the way in putting people first."

"At Shaw, we strive to create a better future and a better world. A world in which we collectively value and invest in the health, well-being and success of all people AND our planet. A future that's safe and safeguarded for generations to come,” said Kellie Ballew, Vice President, Global Sustainability and Innovation, Shaw Industries. “The WELL Equity Rating aligns with that commitment and stands to provide external validation of our efforts."

"Ivanhoé Cambridge is proud to be part of the early adopters of the WELL Equity Rating. As a responsible real estate leader, we look at our spaces through both the investor and the employer lenses,” said Sunita Mahant, Head of Social Impact and Inclusion, Sustainable Investment at Ivanhoé Cambridge. “Our participation solidifies our commitment to creating inclusive spaces. When people walk into our buildings, we want them to feel a sense of belonging. This starts with our own employees – which is why we are kicking off our involvement with our own headquarters in Montréal.”

"Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) sheds light on the needs and priorities of underserved and underrepresented populations who are some of the most valuable members of our community,” said Raymond Rufino, CEO of NEO. “We are still at the start of our DE&I journey but welcome the roadmap that the WELL Equity Rating provides to ensure that our organizations and spaces are safe, respectful and welcoming for each and every person. We’re excited to be an early adopter of the rating and hope many other companies join the journey."

“Green Building Holdings (GBH) together with our four business units at SIG, BlueO, GBES, and Aetos are continually evaluating our DEI efforts across the greater company,” said Beka Rund, Head of People, Green Building Holdings. “We are excited to adopt the WELL Equity Rating to compliment, measure, and evaluate our company for continual improvement. It is our goal to have an inclusive culture and to lead by example for our company and the greater industry.”

“The WELL Equity program provides proven strategies to inform and validate AHA’s commitment to our employees and prospective employees,” said Adam Jennings, Director of Energy, Sustainability & Commissioning, AHA Engineers. “The effects extend well beyond AHA through our service and the services we offer our clients and community.”

About the International WELL Building Institute

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit corporation and the world’s leading organization focused on deploying people-first places to advance a global culture of health. IWBI mobilizes its community through the administration of the WELL Building Standard (WELL) and WELL ratings, management of the WELL AP credential, the pursuit of applicable research, the development of educational resources, and advocacy for policies that promote health and well-being everywhere. More information on WELL can be found here.

International WELL Building Institute pbc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delos Living LLC. International WELL Building Institute, IWBI, the WELL Building Standard, WELL v2, WELL Certified, WELL AP, WELL Portfolio, WELL Score, The WELL Conference, We Are WELL, the WELL Community Standard, WELL Health-Safety Rating, WELL Health-Safety Rated, WELL Equity, WELL Performance Rated, WELL Performance Rating, Works with WELL, WELL and others, and their related logos are trademarks or certification marks of International WELL Building Institute pbc in the United States and other countries.

Note to Editors:

WHAT DOES HEALTH EQUITY MEAN?

Our vision aligns with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s definition of health equity where “everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” Unlike equality, which involves giving everybody the same thing, equity “recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome."

We support positive and preventative health factors in the belief that health is not just the absence of disease, but intimately bound up in a person’s ability to thrive. We recognize that people benefit from this “state of balance” resulting from optimal living in mind, body and spirit, and feel “content, connected to purpose, people and community."

Fulfilling this mission means recognizing that many health disparities are rooted in systemic conditions and social determinants—including the way workplaces are designed, managed and maintained—that impose significant health burdens on certain underserved populations. RWJF’s definition sets equitable access to health as a key outcome, while diversity and inclusion are ways of achieving that goal.

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