“Without Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI), you simply won’t retain top talent. Your hires, as diverse as they can be, will be less productive if they don’t feel included, and without equity, they Wouldn’t be able to move up the ladder, and they would be gone.”
There speaker is Clifton Williams, IREM’s recently appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Williams, who comes to IREM with over 20 years of business focus on DEI, clearly sees the link between smart hiring and the corporate bottom line in the 21st century. As I’ve said before in this space and the various presentations I’ve given, we’re all in a heated battle for the top talent. And top talent today leans toward organizations that are DEI-forward.
When Williams joined IREM a few months ago, he helped align the efforts he had been developing over the years into a major strategic initiative. Of course, that alone won’t escalate the conversation. Any strategic initiative needs to be supported by leadership and membership to move forward. This is what Kasie Hancock, CPM, ACOM, chairperson of the 2022 Diversity Advisory Board, calls “intention.”
Miles to go , ,
“We have a long way to go as an industry and as a consortium,” she explains, noting that commercial real estate “is among the least diverse industries on the planet, especially when compared to the C-Suite. when it comes to opportunities.”
We believe that, in this strategic initiative, we are modeling the intent that corporate leaders need to embrace, certainly in commercial real estate, but equally across all industries today. “You need the support of leadership to make great progress,” Hancock says, “and you need a clear plan that has buy-in across the organization.”
For us, that clear plan comes in the form of a roadmap for our various initiatives, be it education, student and academic outreach, or the next generation. “All roadmaps are different,” Williams explains. The general thread is the development of those roadmaps from IREM’s overall strategic plan. “Roadmaps put into practice the goals of strategic planning.”
Implementation of the DEI protocol is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and as Williams explains, “As we work on the goals contained in the roadmap, each advisory board can outline what they want to achieve, what their time frame will be, and their results.” as what they want to measure. Progress is the most important achievement.”
one size should not fit all
He also notes an important fact that corporate leaders should keep in mind: While buy-in is important throughout the organization, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent. “Not everyone will be on board,” he says. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that different places differ in the diversity of their populations. Taking that issue seriously, he emphasized the importance of providing IREM chapters in the IREM network with the tools and resources they need to mount a DEI initiative that is best suited to their unique demographics.
For IREM, this buy-in meant explicitly assessing chapter participation. “It’s okay if everyone isn’t on board,” Hancock says. “But part of our initiative is to find out where those members and chapters are and what we can do — what they need from us — to help them better understand strategic planning.”
This chapter brings up an important point in integration real estate for all organizations that are interested in enhancing their DEI approach. Local outreach is essential for hiring and retention, and as we all know, asset management is not essential for students trying to define a career path. The message of organizations with an active DEI commitment speaks volumes, especially for young candidates who expect no less from their potential employers. It’s an inclusion that, to use Hancock’s words, is “very attractive to job seekers.”
“Those companies realize that they will benefit from having dual minority and other under-represented groups on their employees,” she adds. “It’s not just a fad. It’s a matter of sustainability.”
It should be noted that, while the goals of each committee may be unique to them – just as they may be for different departments of a corporation – this is not a silent initiative. “On the one hand, we will not conflict with each other because each advisory group will work in its own specific areas,” Williams explains. “None of us will have the same goals.” But there is also a natural integration of efforts – again, as can happen within corporate departments, such as asset management and leasing – where coordination is called for. Of course, at IREM, Williams and Hancock are acting as the primary leaders of the shared, overall DEI effort.
Whether endeavoring at the association level or in the corporate sector, we must always keep in mind that success at DEI is not measured by its perfection. As 2022 IREM president, my year-end speech will not contain the words “mission accomplished.” What I care about the most is that we get recognized for the walk—inwardly and outwardly.
And where will that walk take us? On the way to fundamental change.
Barry Blanton 2022 is the president of IREM. In addition, he serves as chief problem solver and founding principal of Blanton Turner in Seattle, Wash.