Roundtable to Establish Standing Policy Committee on Diversity and Inclusion; Industry Executives Discuss Needed Actions

Roundtable Meeting

The Real Estate Roundtable’s Board of Directors recently approved establishment of a new standing committee to address inclusivity and diversity in the industry and as part of the organization’s policy agenda.  (Roundtable Weekly, June 12)

  • The new committee’s working name is the “Real Estate Diversity and Inclusion Policy Advisory Committee” (REDIPAC).  Its intended objectives are to: 
    • Encourage Roundtable members to adopt and report on quantifiable standards for attracting workers across all skill- and corporate-levels from minority and other pools of talent historically under-represented in our industry;
    • Leverage The Roundtable’s existing advocacy agenda on tax, capital, climate/energy, housing, and infrastructure policies with a view toward also including policy elements aimed to dismantle racial and other barriers to equality; and
    • Build coalitions with civil rights and real estate industry organizations to scale the effectiveness of joint initiatives.
  • The new committee’s mission statement, leadership and requests for participants are expected to be announced in July.
  • This week, African American real estate executives discussed actions needed to expand diversity at all levels of the industry during a webinar on “The Black Experience in Real Estate,” hosted by NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate
  • Schack Associate Dean Sam Chandan lead the remote discussion with four panelists:  
  • The panelists expressed their hope that recent executive-level responses to the deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of police officers represent not simply a “moment but a movement.”  The webinar participants also agreed what is needed now are tangible actions that could bring measurable, positive changes to increase opportunities for minorities in real estate. (The Real Deal, June 26) and Bloomberg, June 23, “Black Real Estate Executives Seek Lasting Change in Diversity”)
  • The four leaders discussed their personal experiences with systemic racism and recommended inclusivity steps that CRE leaders should take in their companies.  (Registration required to watch the June 9 webinar

Separately, a June 24 Walker & Dunlop webinar focused on the first African American woman REIT CEO – Leslie Hale of RLJ Lodging Trust.  Roundtable Member Willy Walker, W&D’s Chairman & CEO, hosted the discussion, which addressed the opportunities for increasing diversity in commercial real estate, Ms. Hale’s approach to diversity and inclusion, the current outlook for the hospitality and retail industries, the U.S. economy and more. 

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Real Estate Roundtable Issues Industry Imperative to Act Against Racism and Injustice

Jeff DeBoer with Roundtable Attendees

It is a moral and economic imperative for The Real Estate Roundtable and CRE companies to take immediate and concrete actions that stand against racism and for inclusion, stated Roundtable Chair Debra Cafaro (Chairman and CEO, Ventas, Inc.) and Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, in a statement issued on June 9.  (DeBoer, above center, with Roundtable meeting attendees in 2019)

  • The statement preceded a discussion yesterday on “Real Estate’s Role in Addressing Racial Injustice” between Roundtable Immediate Past Chair William Rudin (Co-Chairman and CEO, Rudin Management Inc.), and Raymond McGuire (Vice Chairman, Citi and Chairman, Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory), during The Roundtable’s first Virtual Annual Meeting.
  • McGuire said that fortunate opportunities for an excellent education is what made the difference in his life experience and that providing similar opportunities to African American youths is of vital importance.  “I do see this as a defining moment.  It’s a challenge we have to answer for history,” McGuire said.  
  • McGuire also discussed steps to combat systemic racism this week on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “We welcome the millions of dollars. We welcome the relatable messages, but we need to do more. Otherwise, it will have been another sad day in the neighborhood,” McGuire said.
  • The Roundtable’s Board yesterday approved the establishment of a standing committee to further equal opportunities and address racial disparities in the industry, with the goal of taking specific actions to bring more career opportunities to African American and other historically marginalized youth.
  • Ken McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC), will join The Roundtable’s Board of Directors, along with three other new members, effective July 1. REEC is a professional trade association composed of minority leaders in the commercial real estate industry – and is now officially one of 19 national real estate trade association partners that The Roundtable coordinates with on industry policy issues.

Cafaro and DeBoer’s statement concludes, “The moment for leadership is now. The Real Estate Roundtable commits to motivate meaningful and lasting change within our spheres of influence.”

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