Community Service Culture at Duke Realty Drives Record 2015 Effort

In becoming one of the nation’s top companies for commercial real estate, Duke Realty has benefited from the support of many good people—from the associates who make up the Duke Realty team to our customers and the many communities we serve. Since we’re fortunate to work every day with people of such exceptional caliber, it only makes sense to give back to them in whatever way we can.

One big way Duke Realty gives back is through community service performed by our associates—all across the country, all year long. For us, community service isn’t just about the company doing its part—it’s about valuing our associates and the causes that matter to them.

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Duke Realty’s annual Day of Service—in 2016, it falls on April 15—is perhaps the most visible example of Duke Realty associates at work. Hundreds fan out to organizations and causes in their home communities—to build, clean and maintain, and to help out in many other ways. But we encourage our associates to reach out all through the year, as well, by providing every associate with two paid community days per year (one of which can be applied on the Day of Service).

Naturally, the company has always tracked paid community days. But we knew that associates were giving even more of their time—on their own time. Because of the value that Duke Realty places on communities and our connections to them, we wanted to encourage and reward this in some way as well.

Beginning in 2013, Duke Realty’s human resources department opened an online portal where associates could record their unpaid community hours—including time spent volunteering at nonprofits, at their places of worship, and at their children’s schools.

“We encourage associates to log all of their volunteer time,” said Denise Dank, Chief Human Resources Officer and Diversity Ambassador. “It helps to give us a tangible measurement of the impact we’re making as a company in terms of volunteerism. Depending on the number of hours you volunteer, you can earn dollars that you can give to eligible charities. We call that our Dollars for Doers program.”

CHI_Family Shelter Service Holiday Shoppe 12-14-15In recent years, all facets of Duke Realty’s community service have grown in scope and impact. 2015 was a record year for percent of paid volunteer days used—74 percent, for a total of 5,697 paid hours. The amount of total volunteer time—paid and unpaid—rose to a record 12,341 hours. That’s an average of 24 hours per Duke Realty associate, representing a 57 percent increase over 2014.

In addition to being rewarded for their time, associates who give money to the charities they care about are eligible for Duke Realty’s matching gifts program. Duke Realty matches gifts of up to $1,000 to most nonprofits, including groups involved in the arts, education, the environment, and health, as well as civic and community organizations.

The Duke Realty culture as a whole is a significant driver of community involvement. “We do a United Way campaign every year,” Dank said. “That’s our company-wide campaign. But a core focus of our company is to improve the communities in which we do business. Each and every week we update our Intranet site we call Vision—and every Monday you see new efforts by associates in our communities being recognized.”

Dank added, “We also have leaders in the company who are very involved in the community, not only in the industry, but also in nonprofit community settings—whether on a board, or on a committee, or in some other capacity. And on the annual Day of Service, we ask all our local market leaders to get a team together, pick a place, organize an opportunity that day, and encourage associates to participate. We end up with lots of great stories.”

Even from its bottom line, Duke Realty leads community improvement by example. In 2015, it made donations of more than $450,000 to dozens of organizations nationally—from the Alzheimer’s Association to the YMCA. Through the United Way campaign and the matching gifts program, Duke Realty associates gave another $406,00 —for a total of almost $856,000.

DC_Salvation Army“Any responsible company wants to positively impact the communities in which it’s doing business.” Dank said. “And there’s an intrinsic feel-good element to it. From the employee point of view, it’s very cool to work at a company that would give you paid community days and support you being out in the community. When people volunteer, they feel as rewarded as the people they’re trying to help. The more you do it, the more you know it’s the right thing to do.