Long gone are the days when deals were getting done on napkins at country clubs, but in decades past commercial real estate could fairly be described as an “old boys’ network.” Even as attitudes about women and minorities have become more benevolent and hiring practices have evolved, anyone who has attended industry events knows that change in the composition of management and the workforce is coming slowly.
It’s fair to say, however, that the approach toward diversity has taken a big leap forward over the last couple of years. Whether the result of reaction to George Floyd’s killing, the growth of women in leadership positions, or even the realization that it is in the industry’s best interests to better reflect the U.S. population, the collective action on the “social” and “governance” parts of ESG is unprecedented.
Examples abound, but to name a few:
- The CRE Finance Council, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., has ramped up a series of events aimed at promoting its women’s network and diversity. The organization held an event in late June to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.
- The Chicago-based National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM) published a Diversity & Inclusion survey to provide employers with a benchmark and best practice guides to expand recruitment pipelines and drive inclusion and retention of minorities within their organizations. NAREIM also created an active D&I committee. Zoe Hughes, CEO of NAREIM talks about the “S” in ESG in our One Question With
- The National Multifamily Housing Council, an apartment industry group in Washington D.C. NMHC has developed an entire framework that includes events and a Racial Equity Task Force that focuses on (1) supplier diversity and discretionary spending; (2) access to capital and credit; and (3) the talent ecosystem. The task force identifies specific goals, key stakeholders, recommended industry actions, and NMHC’s commitments to act. What’s more, NMHC provides reduced or free membership to minority-run firms.
Again, these are just a few of the concrete steps being taken in the industry. While equality is likely to come gradually, many in the industry have taken a huge step toward that end by recognizing its importance and developing concrete steps to get there.