02/02/2023 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto

The REIT industry is undertaking “critical” work to ensure that real estate’s leadership, staff, and procurement opportunities better reflect the nation’s wider demographics, says Ayris T. Scales, Nareit’s senior vice president for social responsibility and global initiatives.

Speaking on Nareit’s REIT Report, Scales said that Nareit is working together with its REIT members to accelerate change collectively and “elevate the way that we do things on behalf of the industry.”

Scales outlined two key projects underway at Nareit to advance diversity and inclusion throughout the industry.

She noted that the grant application process for the Nareit Foundation’s Dividends through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DDEI) Giving Campaign opened this week.

Among the groups urged to apply, Scales said, are organizations focusing on ways to help secure talent for the real estate industry by looking at ways to expose high school or college students to real estate opportunities through mentorship, internships, and any other types of leadership and professional development opportunities.

Nearly 40 Nareit corporate members have made contributions to the campaign since it launched in May 2022. “We're on an aggressive path to hit $3 million and to continue to raise funds to continue to invest into communities and nonprofits that are supporting workforce development as well as supplier diversity initiatives,” Scales said.

Organizations that are focused on and committed to making sure that small and diverse businesses are gaining access to capital, so that they can be competitive on procurement opportunities, are also encouraged to apply, she said.

Scales added that because this is the first round of funding, “a lot of what we do with this round and going forward will really be informed by this process.” Organizations interested in applying can learn more here and also www.justfund.us, which will administer the process. The grant application process closes on March 9.

Meanwhile, Scales also spoke about how Nareit and other trade associations are galvanizing around a single procurement platform, known as Supplier Gateway, to drive members to connect to minority- and women-owned businesses across the country for procurement needs. The goal is to have at least 25 Nareit members take advantage of Supplier Gateway’s platform during its pilot year. More information about the program is available here .

Scales also urged those who are working to drive social impact and change within their companies to consider attending REITworks: 2023 Real Estate ESG Conference , held June 28-29 in Las Vegas.

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