Read Full Article
This piece is the first in a series of articles examining the racial diversity of the boards and executive leadership of the biggest companies in commercial real estate...
Within commercial real estate, I think REITs are the most underrepresented with regard to diversity.
I was really perplexed when I went into the REIT environment about the lack of diversity, certainly at the executive level and the board level.
If you're a REIT and you're not actively incorporating diversity and inclusion, you're doing a disservice to shareholders and it's going to hurt your long-term performance.
If we're being honest about it, the institutional investor world had defined diversity as gender.
It's fundamentally more difficult when you have the leaders of your business: The opportunities for changes don't present themselves as easily as they do with the board.
It's critically important because the C-suite are the people who hire diverse talent, promote diverse talent. It's not the board, it's the C-suite, and that's where it starts.
For retail REITs, if you incorporate diversity into the leasing team and that translates to the diversity of tenants and the diversity of shops, that can pull in more traffic to your shopping center because you can appeal to more potential shoppers.
If you're building product in a diverse community, you need to understand how that community ticks.
We have a track record that goes back more than 20 years of having a diverse board and senior management team, which today includes 5 women and one African American.
Like many U.S. public companies, we have made progress with ethnic diversity, but not as much as we would have liked, and are actively working on initiatives in this area, including at the board level.
If you are a multifamily REIT, to broaden the diversity of tenants, you want a diverse leasing team that will capture the most potential market share and create a diverse community.
We will continue to encourage candid, open and honest discussions within our company about all aspects of diversity, inclusion and acceptance.
The events of the last few weeks offer a sad and stark reminder of how much more work we need to do to achieve true social equality for our people.
We do think we can do better with respect to both gender and racial diversity at the leadership level of the company, and we are focused on it.
Vornado CEO Steven Roth was among the leaders of the Partnership for New York City who signed a June letter saying the business community
We're not the only investor pushing companies to do that.
REITs drive commercial real estate.
To me, the biggest progress has been the awareness that is now prominent, whether it's through Black Lives Matter or whether it's through the #MeToo movement. There's a huge awareness, not just at the board level.
The domino effect of this awareness is really significant in terms of starting to motivate and justify and embolden and empower leaders to make the right decisions and be smart in their approach because everyone's watching more closely than they used to.
Some REITs are doing a good job on reporting diversity and inclusion, although it's still pretty sparse.
What so many people fail to recognize is diversity is a business imperative.