This article is sponsored by Nuveen.
How much progress have you seen in the real estate industry when it comes to DE&I?
Throughout my career, I have witnessed tremendous change. There is, absolutely, more diversity around the table today, compared to a decade ago.
And why is it so important that these organizations do become more diverse and inclusive?
Diversity, equity and inclusion is key to ensuring more equitable outcomes for society as a whole and profitability impact for the firm. DE&I are also important from a productivity standpoint. But while the benefits of having a diverse employee base are well documented, creating a culture where those team members are consistently encouraged to be authentic is just as important, that is why we lead with inclusion. It relies on every individual challenging their baseline thinking in a way that may make them feel uncomfortable. It is also the piece that can genuinely impact performance.
Is diversity still primarily thought of in terms of gender and ethnicity?
Gender and ethnicity are the more visible and measurable forms of diversity. But gender and ethnicity differences don’t necessarily translate into differences in the way we approach work or our lives. The best advice I can offer about how to tackle those more subtle but critically important differences is to listen and become an ally for an individual or group that doesn’t match your own. Creating a climate to understand who people really are and where their motivation to succeed lies moves inclusive outcomes beyond gender and ethnicity.
What are the biggest challenges that remain when it comes to driving greater diversity in the real estate sector?
The biggest opportunities are at the middle management level and above. We are seeing great improvements when it comes to entry level and more junior positions. But when you reach middle management, that gap is still there, so there has to be a willingness to hire outside the industry. Being even more consciously inclusive when recruiting for a role and considering hiring for potentiality is one way to support diverse hiring. You need to embrace candidates that might not meet the technical requirement of having a certain number of years’ experience in real estate. Instead, you need to look for transferable skills and a desire to succeed. At the senior levels, there is more intentionality to engage in diverse sponsorships. Diverse sponsorships provide opportunity to learn and grow talent that will have a different perspective and experience from your own which in turns leads to more innovation and business impact.
If we were toasting your success in DE&I in 10 years’ time, what would we be toasting?
We would be toasting an organization that is leading the industry in growing diverse talent, creating innovative diverse real estate outcomes/solutions and celebrating our culture of showing up as our whole authentic person in the workforce. There is still a lot of work to do. But, in my opinion, that is what success would look like.