Diverse candidates feel over-targeted, pausing on moves

NAREIM DEI Summit takeaways

November 10, 2021


There is a massive effort by the industry to recruit mid- to senior and executive-level women and people of color today – however, diverse candidates are feeling over-targeted and are often giving pause to efforts to hire them.


During NAREIM’s first DEI Summit, focused on diversity recruitment trends in real estate investment management, experts said the demand for diverse talent “incredible” and there was no other strategy than to “dig and network” to find who and where talented professionals were.


However, the meeting – which was opened to NAREIM members and managers from across the industry – also heard that women and professionals of color were attuned to the state of the market, and feeling over-targeted. It was giving them pause amid fears they were only being hired to check the box of diversity, rather than for their skills.


As a result, diversity outreach was becoming more difficult for HR and recruitment firms. “You have to explain what your motivations for the hire are, otherwise it’s going to have a negative effect,” the meeting was told.


To download the presentations and attendee list, click here.


Working with diversity partners

Showcasing 4 partner models: REEC, ICSC, Project Destined and Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders


The DEI Summit also showcased four diversity-focused partners working to increase the pool of women and people of color in the industry, including REEC, ICSC, Project Destined and Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders.


During presentations and whole room Q&A, the meeting heard how the different models – including paid and free models – operated and how each partner works with students, junior talent and managers.


Key highlights


Among the highlights from the presentations were strategies for retaining interns from underrepresented groups and for ensuring they can be as successful as possible within an organization where few people may look like them. The advice included:


  • This is also about exposure to the industry – not just hire backs. If a student is hired, that’s icing on the cake for students being exposed to the industry for the first time. This is a long process of education about the opportunities within commercial real estate and investment management

  • Social and mental well-being is as important as professional development. Consider the social support of interns, especially when they are in a new city away from family. If they feel completely alone, they won’t thrive.

  • Provide opportunities to get alums together with new interns, students. Bringing people who have been through the same thing together should be part of the training and development.

  • Celebrate, not just berate. We spend so much time putting ourselves down about how the numbers in real estate don’t look good. I think it’s time for us to see that we are being intentional, making commitments, making strides and starting to collaborate and show collectively what is going on. We will change how we think and how we view diversity.

  • Scale matters when it comes to diversity. You are investing in potential.

  • Community colleges are a great resource for diversity. But you need to understand existing assessments may create bias for some students, candidates without a traditional CRE background.

  • There is no singular approach to increasing diversity in CRE. It’s a commitment to partnership.


To download the presentations and attendee list, click here.


The DEI Summit is the first in a series of conversations focused on DEI strategies, recruitment and retention best practices for managers in real estate investment management. Watch out for more news from the NAREIM DEI Committee on the next episode.