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Diversity & Inclusion: An interview with Carnegie Corporation

Alisa Mall, the real estate head of Carnegie Corporation of New York, talks about the endowment’s work to improve diversity across their own portfolio, and the industry, as part of a new NAREIM series of investor perspectives into diversity and inclusion.

Speaking with Suzanne West, senior advisor of The CenterCap Group and former investor, Mall says it’s critical for real estate investment managers to become “mentally, emotionally and financially committed to diversity” to create a culture that values diversity of thought to drive performance.

Mall and West explore the tactics Carnegie is employing to promote diversity among its managers, how they are being constructive not punitive and how the endowment is underwriting new and existing relationships on manager ownership and employee diversity metrics. 

The interview is one of a series of investor perspectives on diversity being published as part of the NAREIM Diversity & Inclusion Survey. Download your complimentary copy of the article here.

Key highlights:

  • "What Carnegie really wants to understand is a manager’s commitment to valuing the diversity of opinions in their firms and how they value all their people, and in particular diverse voices."

  • If the senior management team all look alike, Carnegie asks: "Why is that the case, how are you thinking about it and what are you doing to change it?"

  • Managers should be committed to valuing different voices and different backgrounds. Diversity is not just about the ownership of the firm, but the entire firm. If the ownership lacks diversity, do diverse professionals have a seat at the table and a voice in decision making?

  • New and existing managers are scored on their diversity, comprising gender, ethnicity and background.

  • Diversity isn't about penalizing managers - but to encourage and incentivize them to evolve and build a culture where diversity and diversity of thought matters.

About the NAREIM Diversty & Inclusion Survey

For more than a decade, NAREIM has produced a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Survey for members. This fall, NAREIM is expanding it's survey in an effort to help the entire industry become more diverse.

It's easy to talk of the lack of diversity in the real estate investment management industry. According to the NAREIM 2019 D&I report, just 16% of executive managers were women and just 6% were non-white. However, there is a bigger issue at stake, something which is succinctly articulated by Alisa Mall in the accompanying interview.

Diversity is not just about gender or ethnicity. It's also about diversity of thought and the diversity of ideas within a team. Diversity is about having, and listening to, the different voices at the table to better prepare an investment firm for managing and executing upon situations, such as those we face today.

As NAREIM, in partnership with Ferguson Partners, prepares to invite real estate investment managers to participate in its Diversity & Inclusion survey this fall, we asked institutional investors to talk about their perspectives on diversity and inclusion and how they are working with investment managers to deliver lasting change for the industry. Enjoy the conversation. Zoe Hughes, NAREIM CEO

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