I HAVE BEEN ATTENDING CRE EVENTS SINCE I
started working in this community some 15 years ago, and
I’ve learned a lot over that time. No matter the occasion or
location, I know these things are true:
1. In a large room full of people, I always have a hard time finding
some individuals I may be seeking. They appear to be lost in a room
of dark suits and hair that is either slicked back or nonexistent.
2. In buffet lines, it’s best to let most folks fill their plates before me,
lest I get jostled by strong elbows that have been starved for several hours.
3. I never, ever have to wait in line for the bathroom.
You may have chuckled at these. And they’re funny because they’re true; the sad
fact is that when it comes down to it, CRE is one of the last bastions to be diversified.
That’s not to say the industry—long known as an “Old (White) Boys’ Network” built
on relationships—hasn’t made strides. Women, for instance, comprised 43% of CRE
professionals in 2010, the CREW Network found, up from 32% a decade earlier. In
2016, the US Department of Labor reported women held 45.6% of the nation’s 3. 16
million real estate positions, which include various segments of the business. Those
numbers dwindle, though, as you move higher up the ladder.
The figures are worse for race and ethnicity. The Labor Department found that
Black/African Americans held just 10.4% of real estate roles in 2016, while those with
Hispanic/Latino and Asian backgrounds accounted for 5.7% and 4.1%, respectively.
That’s a slight improvement from three years earlier, when the oft-referenced CRE
Diversity Report was released. The study found that in four out of five categories, white
men held the majority of the 166,554 CRE jobs surveyed. Further, they held 77.6% of
senior executive-level roles, compared to 8.3% held by all ethnic minorities combined.
And then there’s age diversification. As much hype as Millennials get, Labor
Department figures show the industry may actually be getting older, with the median
age of real estate pros rising from 46. 5 in 2011 to 48 in 2016. Looking at either end of
the spectrum, those aged 22 to 35 accounted for 22% of the 3. 16 million real estate
jobs in 2016, while 13% were older than 65. Five years earlier, the youngest and oldest
cohorts respectively held 24% and 11% of nearly 2.78 million real estate roles.
As for LGBTQ Americans, the Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Corporate Equality
Index looks at the level of LGBTQ inclusiveness among major US companies. It found
that 515 of the 887 firms included in the 2017 report received a perfect 100 score.
CRE firms took up just three of those spots. But hey, that’s better than the survey’s first
year (2002), when no industry firms even made it to the list of 13 perfect scores.
And I won’t say anything about people with disabilities because, well, there were little
to no data available about their presence in CRE.
I make these points for good reason. The world is becoming increasingly diverse,
and one can’t define diversity in strict terms. People are different in many more ways
than are listed here—for instance, parental status, financial background, immigration
status, the list goes on. And increasingly, US businesses are realizing that in order to
serve a more diverse and colorful population, they, too, need to diversify internally.
I know another thing to be true: these trends are only going to become more prevalent. As such, we dedicated much of this issue to how the CRE business is adjusting
to these changes and actively trying to mix up their recruitment. More work obviously
needs to be done, but it’s refreshing to see a collaborative effort on the part of industry
organizations to take those steps. And we at the ALM Real Estate Media Group look
forward to covering this issue and its success stories in the coming year.
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