The Need for Diversity and Inclusiveness Leadership in CRE

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, there was a renewed call for diversity and inclusiveness in CRE. It’s clear there is no more room for inequality and exclusivity in our country and in our industry. And fortunately, many leaders in commercial real estate are showing us the way forward.

Minorities Speak Up

When the recent protests over inequality flared up, Bisnow reached out to racial minorities to discuss diversity and inclusiveness in CRE. Leading the way, the popular industry news journal opened up a much-needed dialogue with the racial minorities working in CRE to better understand how they feel and what solutions to pursue. The responses provide a unique snapshot and roadmap for improving diversity and inclusiveness in the CRE industry.

First, they asked how it feels right now to be a racial minority in America and in CRE. While some responded with frustration that this even had to be a topic, many others expressed hope that this time was different. Many feel positive change is in the works – not only for commercial real estate, but the nation at large.

Next, they asked what CRE leaders can do to bring about a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Helpful responses poured in. A common response was to praise the various programs and organizations pushing for inclusion, like:

But the primary response was to stress the importance of awareness and dialogue. We cannot pretend diversity and inclusiveness in CRE are not real and valid concerns. Leadership in this area requires meeting the issue head on and then working on ways to solve it.

Other Leadership Examples

Bisnow’s project is not the only example of leadership on this matter. There are other notable members of our industry making firm commitments to diversity and inclusiveness in CRE.

  • CREW Network, long an ally for women in CRE, has introduced measures to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for the whole diversity spectrum, including ethnicity/race, culture, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and age. We at Building Careers are proud of our involvement with the CREW Network and of the work they do to broaden our industry.

  • CRE Finance Council, the trade association for CRE, described as the leading voice for commercial real estate finance, has issued a strong statement on diversity and inclusion. In it, they stressed the need for proactive leadership and discussed their creation of an endowment to “heighten diversity through increased opportunities within the commercial real estate finance industry.”

  • Another San Diego local, Dustin Sutton, has created a group called the Black Commercial Real Estate Network (BCREN), whose goal is to provide a community of connection, idea sharing, support, and mentorship for Black members of the commercial real estate industry nationwide.

  • The Real Estate Executive Council (REEC) was formed to promote the interests of minority executives doing business in the commercial real estate industry.

  • CBRE, a global leader in commercial real estate services, created an in-depth mission statement dedicated to diversity and inclusion. In the various videos and talking points the mission statement contains, CBRE makes the point that diversity and inclusiveness in CRE isn’t just a good idea, it’s their competitive advantage. They point out that in an industry as diverse as real estate, there is incredible value in cultivating a workforce with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

The commercial real estate industry has a spotty track record on diversity and inclusion. But there is hope for the future. As leaders rise to the forefront and make the case for a colorful and varied industry, others are listening and following in their path. We can no longer pretend away this problem. But through tackling it head on, we can find creative and enriching solutions for a more colorful and expansive CRE.

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