In a concerted effort to foster diversity within their organizations, many real estate companies are becoming more proactive in recruiting people of color.
To that end, commercial real estate firms are sourcing talent from a broader group of colleges and universities and providing a variety of career development resources.
While the industry is making strides, diversity levels among senior executives could use some improvement. According to NAIOP, white men comprise 78 percent of senior executives and white women make up the next largest segment (14 percent), while black women and black men each comprise 1 percent of the total.
With more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate, Fara Wilson, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Ackerman & Co., is familiar with both the challenges and rewards of working as a black woman in the industry. She described her experiences in a Bisnow feature, The Black Experience.
“Being black in CRE presents a new opportunity to learn, grow and make money. It also means having access to a client base that typically has not been marketed to by a black broker or not met someone in CRE marketing who looks like him or her,” Fara said.
She added, “On the not-so-positive side, you can run into small-minded people. However, nothing succeeds like success. If you stay focused on the task at hand and do a great job, clients and peers alike will grow to respect you and focus on your ability to deliver.”
In addition to the efforts of individual companies, real estate organizations are working to attract people of color.
The Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors (ACBR), one of the largest realtor associations in America, has a variety of programs aimed at boosting diversity at all levels of commercial real estate.
“Atlanta has been very progressive in civil rights and race relations but our industry has lagged behind,” said Scotland Wright, former Diversity Committee chairman for ACBR, in a promotional video for the association’s diversity programs.
ACBR’s diversity’s initiatives include a mentorship program that helps mentees enhance their skills and expertise; a partnership program that combines the resources of ACBR with organizations such as CoreNet and NAIOP; and an annual event that presents a guest speaker from a diverse background who shares his or her experiences in the industry.
NAIOP, a commercial real estate network with more than 19,000 members, promotes diversity through initiatives such as the Inclusion in CRE Scholarship, which enters up to 10 women and minorities into a curriculum aimed at advancing their commercial real estate careers. The organization also provides examples of best practices companies have adopted to increase diversity.