Unfamiliarity with the career prospects offered by commercial real estate is a key reason why minority groups are underrepresented in the industry, according to Collete English Dixon, executive director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University.
In a video interview with Nareit, Dixon observed that “as we’re trying to find a pipeline of diverse talent for this industry, one of the things that we find most daunting is the lack of awareness of what this industry is, how you can engage in it, [and] what you need to know to be successful.”
“If we are better at sharing that knowledge and providing access to those opportunities, I think we will see an opportunity to change the face of this industry going forward,” she added.
Dixon said the combination of the coronavirus crisis and the social justice movement has the potential to bring about real change in the commercial real estate industry.
“Everything that’s going on right now is leading to conversations about…how to level the playing field and how companies in commercial real estate can take the sort of steps that they have the purview to take to make a difference and to use this opportunity to look at how to overcome and to change the structures that have limited opportunity.”
As to why minorities, especially African Americans, have been underrepresented in commercial real estate, Dixon replied: “There are so many aspects of this industry that are very hard to overcome unless you have the foundation of the relationships, the capital, or the exposure.”