Roundtable-Backed Corporate Diversity Bill Passes House Committee

A bill supported by The Real Estate Roundtable that would require public companies to report on the diversity of their corporate boards and executive officers was approved Tuesday by voice vote in the House Financial Services Committee. (Committee mark-up, April 20)

  • The Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act (H.R. 1277) is sponsored in the House by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), left in photo, and in the Senate by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), right in photo. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 27)

  • The bill would amend the 1934 Securities Exchange Act to require issuers of securities that must file annual reports to disclose in proxy statements:
    • Data on the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of their executive officers, board of directors, and board nominees;
    • Whether any director, board nominee, or executive officer is a veteran; and
    • Plans or strategies to promote diversity at the board and executive levels. 
  • The Roundtable supports the Meeks-Menendez bill along with other groups including Nareit, NAIOP, International Council of Shopping Centers, Real Estate Executives Council (REEC), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Meeks news release, Feb. 23, 2021)
  • The Roundtable joined other national organizations in a letter urging Financial Services Committee leaders to advance the legislation. The April 20 letter stated, “gender, racial, and ethnic diversity on corporate boards of directors … is important to institutional investors and other stakeholders, as well as to good corporate governance.”
  • The full House is expected to vote in the coming weeks on the measure, which passed in the last session of Congress but stalled in the Senate (Roundtable Weekly, July 31, 2020).  Now that the Senate is under Democratic control, the Meeks-Menendez bill has a higher likelihood of passing in both chambers.
  • In related news, The Roundtable’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Committee is coordinating with the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC) on efforts to promote the hiring of more minority- and women-business enterprises (MWBEs) in real estate’s “supply chain” of vendors and contractors.

The Roundtable is a “Founding Diversity Partner” in a REEC national program to improve diversity, racial equality, and inclusivity across the commercial real estate industry. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5)

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Roundtable-Backed Corporate Diversity Bill Reintroduced in House and Senate

Legislation requiring public companies to report on the diversity of their corporate boards and executive officers was reintroduced Feb. 23 in the Senate and House by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), above right, and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), left, (Bloomberg Law, Feb. 23) 

  • The Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act  would amend the 1934 Securities Exchange Act to require issuers of securities that must file annual reports to disclose in proxy statements:
    • Data on the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of their executive officers, board of directors, and board nominees;
    • Whether any director, board nominee, or executive officer is a veteran; and
    • Plans or strategies to promote diversity at the board and executive levels. 
  • “Without greater diversity in top corporate positions, the U.S. will fail to compete with other leading economies and stall our nation’s progress towards full inclusivity,” said Sen. Menendez. “It’s time corporate boardrooms mirror the rich diversity of our country.” (Menendez news release, Feb. 23
  • “Revealing the gender, racial, ethnic and veteran makeup of these corporate C-suites and boardrooms will not only shed light on the value of diversity, but hopefully encourage corporate shareholders to increase diversity in the highest ranks of their corporations,” said Rep. Meeks. (Meeks news release, Feb. 23)
  • The Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act passed the House in the last Congress but did not advance in the Senate. (Roundtable Weekly, July 31, 2020). Now that the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, the measure has a higher likelihood of passage this session.
  • The Roundtable supports the Menendez-Meeks bill along with other groups including Nareit, NAIOP, International Council of Shopping Centers, Real Estate Executives Council (REEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Meeks news release, Feb. 23)
  • “Diversifying corporate leadership is a critical step to provide equal business opportunities for all Americans, and we urge Congress to pass the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act,” said Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey DeBoer. ”It’s been estimated that $5 trillion can be added to US GDP over the next five years if we close the systemic gaps that have prevented Blacks, Hispanics, and other under-represented groups from fully and fairly participating in our economy.”
  • Reports from PwC and McKinsey & Co. find that diversity in corporate management and leadership drives profitability.  The McKinsey report concludes that “companies with more diverse executives were 33% more likely to see above average profits.” (CNBC, June 12, 2020)
  • The Roundtable’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Committee recently issued its mission statement to create equal opportunities for Black Americans and other minorities to prosper in the commercial real estate industry. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 12)

The Roundtable is also a “Founding Diversity Partner” in a national program recently launched by the Real Estate Executives Council (REEC) — the leading trade association formed to promote the interests of minority executives in the CRE industry. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5) 

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Roundtable’s ED&I Committee Releases Mission Statement Aiming to Advance Racial Equity in CRE

Roundtable Meeting

The Real Estate Roundtable’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) Committee finalized its mission statement on Wednesday, with a key objective to create more economic opportunities for Black, Latino and other historically under-represented groups to prosper in the commercial real estate industry.

  • The ED&I Committee’s mission statement draws from the Biden-Harris Administration’s executive order “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities” (Jan 20), as well as data recently reported by Citi GPS on the economic cost of racial inequality in the U.S.

  • The statement provides a four-part mission to:
    • Encourage RER’s members to create equal opportunities in real estate’s management, workforce, supply chain, and capital markets for Black, Latino, and other professionals historically under-represented in the CRE industry;
    • Develop an anti-discrimination, pro-inclusion federal policy agenda within The Roundtable’s traditional spheres of influence as an advocate on tax, capital markets, ESG, housing, infrastructure, and immigration matters;
    • Forge alliances by The Roundtable with civil rights and minority business organizations; and
    • Increase diversity among Roundtable membership, directors, contractors, and staff.

       

  • Roundtable Board Member and ED&I Committee Chairman Jeff Blau (CEO, Related Companies) stated, “The creation of a mission statement is a foundational step that will guide The Roundtable in its crucial work to create equity and affect real change in the real estate industry. Diversifying our industry is not a task that can be left to a few, rather it is a responsibility for all of our members and I look forward to continuing to work with RER to advocate for and drive meaningful progress.”

  • The ED&I Committee’s initial focus will be on initiatives to boost opportunities for minority-owned firms in CRE’s supply chain of service providers, and support appropriate federal policy proposals to improve diversity in corporate governance.

  • The Roundtable is also a “Founding Diversity Partner” in a national program recently launched by the Real Estate Executives Council (REEC) — the leading trade association formed to promote the interests of minority executives in the CRE industry.  The Roundtable’s ED&I mission statement reflects the goals of REEC’s framework, including objectives to increase corporate spend on minority-owned vendors, develop a pipeline of racially diverse CRE talent, and improve access to capital and credit for minority owned investment managers.  (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 5)

  • NAIOP and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) are also among the founding partners in REEC’s initiative.

“The events of the last year have laid bare the injustices faced by Black Americans and other minorities in our economic, public health, and social institutions,” said Jeffrey D. DeBoer, President and CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable.  “The Roundtable must do our part to help create an equal playing field of opportunities for all Americans to prosper in our industry.” (ED&I Mission Statement, Feb. 10)

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