Experienced D&I leader finds new home at JLL

Through relationships and partnerships, Giselle Battley drives company and personal success

The path to finding her career passion didn’t take long for JLL’s Giselle Battley. After graduating from college, Giselle chose a path in sales and marketing for a large consumer goods organization. Part of her focus was on revitalizing local multi-cultural accounts and developing marketing programs that resonated with customers across diverse cultural groups – a project that sparked a new passion within her. Just a few years later, Giselle was invited to join the diversity integrated talent management team within the same organization, where she championed a diverse workforce through talent acquisition efforts such as leading inclusive leader trainings and diversity recruitment conferences. Diversity and inclusion had become Giselle’s career calling.

“I quickly understood that diversifying our consumer base was an inside-out job,” reflects Giselle. “Customers know when a brand is authentic in their outreach. We see this play out on the public stage now more than ever. An organization’s workforce must reflect the customers they are looking to attract or conduct business with. Most importantly, diversity must be represented at all levels of the organization – especially within executive leadership. Beyond D&I being important because it’s the right thing to do, it’s mission-critical for the success of any organization.”

Giselle progressed throughout her career, working in university relations and outreach programs for a health insurance organization and working for a global professional services firm as a national diversity, equity, and inclusion recruiting lead before landing her dream job at JLL.

Today, she leads D&I strategic partnerships and university relations at JLL. The work of Giselle’s team enhances JLL’s mission of creating a better world where we attract, engage, assess, and hire more diverse talent across the organization. Giselle is also an active member JLL’s Empower Black Professionals Network.

We sat down with Giselle to learn more about her education, career path, insights on diversity, equity and inclusion and her advice for future Black leaders.

What do you do at JLL?

My title is D&I Director, Strategic Partnerships and University Relations. What does that mean? I build and cultivate relationships with external organizations and universities to foster a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent for our firm.

Where did you go to college/university?

I’m a proud graduate from a Historically Black University, Xavier University of Louisiana. I’m thankful for the legacy my grandparents and parents set by also being graduates of my beloved alma mater, and I’m fortunate to have an extensive heritage of other HBCU graduates in my family from Tuskegee, Howard, Spelman, Dillard, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman, Texas Southern, and Meharry Medical College.

What did you study in college?

Although I initially explored majors such as English and communications, I ultimately chose marketing as it best fit my aspirations at the time. I thought I’d be creating marketing ads, campaigns, and commercials one day for a large corporation. It was a field of study that I believed would satisfy my desire to exercise my creativity and succeed in corporate America. However, I began to learn that sales and marketing are a joint package. Because of this, I found myself competing in regional collegiate sales competitions as early as my sophomore year and winning multiple awards. Thus, my sales career blossomed, and it was the best route I could’ve taken, even if unintentional. I spent the first five years of my post-college career in sales facing roles. Through these experiences, I built professional confidence, learned how to think quickly on my feet when faced with challenges, and provide solutions to help others achieve their objectives. Above all, being in a predominantly male-dominated industry for that amount of time, I found my voice and purpose in actively championing a diverse workforce, leading directly to the work I’m doing today. My advice to future leaders? Be open to taking unplanned turns in your career and saying yes to unexpected opportunities – it just might be the key that unlocks the door to your purpose!

How did you make your way to JLL?

I learned about this opportunity through a JLL recruiter that contacted me for an exploratory conversation. I long admired the real estate industry but knew very little about the variety of opportunities and career options it offers, especially within commercial real estate. I ultimately was attracted to this position as I was energized by JLL’s commitment to D&I and the chance to make a broader impact to the industry by bringing awareness of CRE careers to underrepresented communities. My personal mission is to open doors of opportunities and create space for others, and I’m fortunate that I’m able to do that directly through my role here at JLL.

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What do you enjoy most about working here?

I’ve made it a point throughout my career to bring my authentic self into every role, room, and meeting that I’m in. At JLL, I’ve truly felt celebrated for doing just that and have been encouraged to bring bold ideas to the table and challenge the status quo. I am also given opportunities to grow professionally and build my network daily.

What does the JLL’s Empower Black Professionals Network (BPN) mean to you?

I’ve had a short tenure with JLL to date, but after getting connected with the Black Professionals Network, I can truly say that I already feel at home. I was able to make instant connections with like-minded professionals and have been empowered to continue the conversation regarding diversity, equity and inclusion by other members within BPN that were already leading the charge prior to me joining the firm.

What does an inclusive culture look like?

An inclusive organization is one that keeps equity at the forefront of everything they do. It ensures that everyone has unrestricted access to opportunities for development and advancement, in addition to addressing any systemic barriers.

Do you have a message about developing racial inclusivity at work?

Racial inclusivity goes beyond lip service. Systemic barriers must be eliminated in order to truly progress. Changing hearts and minds may be an ongoing journey but reforming the systems that perpetuate these issues is an actionable and very critical step along the way.

Who inspires you, whether in your community, professionally, or personally?

The amazing students that I get to interact with not only inspire me but energize me! I’m often left in awe by their resiliency and drive to succeed – many times against incredible odds. Their stories leave lasting impressions that I carry with me both professionally and personally.

My favorite thing to do outside of work…

I’ve recently rediscovered the public library and enjoy taking advantage of free literature (audio/e-books) on its mobile platforms.

If I could meet or get to know one person better, it would be…

Am I allowed to choose more than one? Because I would say my grandparents. All achieved higher education through attending HBCUs. They beat all odds in a time where they were barely recognized as second-class citizens due to their race. My maternal grandmother had a physical disability, but never let that prevent her from achieving her goals even though society was not accommodating. I’d love the opportunity to have one more dinner with each of them and hear their stories firsthand.

What’s been one of your proudest achievements, personally or professionally?

I am most proud of the fact that I am unapologetically committed to all my roles—as a wife, mother of two very young and active children, and a professional dedicated to growing my career. I believe that none of the roles I play should sacrifice significantly for the sake of another. While this has been a personal evolution with time, I am committed now, more than ever, to working within organizations that support my aspirations both personally and professionally. JLL has been amazingly flexible as it relates to my needs as a parent, especially in this ever-evolving virtual COVID environment and supports my growth professionally.

What would you like the future of commercial real estate to look like for Black professionals?

I imagine a commercial real estate world where there are no barriers or ceilings.

What advice do you have to inspire success at JLL?

Above all things, be confident in who you are and own your story. Everything in life that you’ve experienced has brought you to this moment and no one else can offer the same ideas and insights that are uniquely yours!

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