Chicago, IL – REEC’s Chair, Tammy Jones, and Vice-Chair, Jim Simmons, participated on a panel earlier this week hosted by Dr. Sam Chandan, Silverstein Chair of NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, and a member of REEC. During the panel they independently outlined a framework for increasing diversity in commercial real estate. The panel was moderated by Craig Robinson, a member of REEC, and Onay Payne, Managing Director of Clarion Partners and Margaret Anadu, Head of the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs were also on the panel.
Chair Jones emphasized that there must be commitment from the top and intentionality all the way through each organization. “You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan,” she observed. “We need to create business plans for diversity. A business plan includes explicit goals, measurable mileposts, specifics on who is responsible and how they will be held accountable,” she concluded.
Vice Chair Simmons explained that there are multiple dimensions to diversity that must be addressed. In addition to increasing the level of diverse talent in the workplace, firms should understand where “they spend money” and have a goal of spending a percentage with minority owned firms. Additionally, those that allocate capital for investment should challenge themselves to increase the amount they allocate to minority owned investment managers, developers, projects and communities. Mr. Simmons also emphasized that firms must be held accountable to the goals that they set in these areas of diversity.
Chair Jones added that this cannot be done individually or alone, firms need partners. The panelists listed REEC, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (“SEO”), Management Leadership for Tomorrow (“MLT”), The Toigo Foundation and InRoads as organizations whose missions include increasing diversity in the financial services industry and all have contributed significantly to the current level of diversity in CRE. Of these non-profits, REEC is the only one solely focused on the CRE industry and has programs and resources in place to assist firms in achieving workplace diversity, supplier diversity (corporate spend) and capital allocation diversity.
REEC is committed to building and expanding the platforms, programs and relationships needed to increase the participation of minorities and to support diverse talent throughout the CRE industry. REEC’s membership has grown by over 50% since 2016.
About Real Estate Executive Council
Since its inception in 2003, REEC has grown to include over 110 diverse members with varying backgrounds made up of the most senior executives of color throughout the nation, along with the rising stars in the commercial real estate industry with at least ten years of experience. Members are diverse professionals with careers allied to investment, management, leasing, financing and property development. REEC programming includes networking events, roundtables and receptions across the country several times throughout the year, as well as specific programming like The Real Estate Exchange (“REEX”), a summer intensive program to introduce minority high school students to CRE; a mentorship program partnering young professionals with executives and a Board Readiness Development Series for executives. REEC also awards grants to local real estate organizations and has endowed a fellowship at U. Penn/Wharton School.