Is your team feeling fatigued as it relates to your organizational diversity, equity and inclusion goals? You're not alone. As companies grapple with this—now more than ever—it’s become critical to come together and share success stories and best practices. Enter: 2022 NMHC Leadership Forum.
This year’s NMHC Leadership Forum brought together more than 160 multifamily leaders in Dallas to discuss the opportunities and challenges organizations are facing as many transition their DEI efforts from “nice to have” to “must have” business strategies. Whether your organization has focused on diversity, equity or inclusion at the community level or at the enterprise level or within your workforce or your supplier relationships—this space is rife with opportunity and potential reward.
As NMHC Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Strategic Initiatives, Betsy Feigin Befus put it during her opening remarks, “Thank you for keeping going despite the challenges. This is all opportunity. It can only get better.” Conversations during the Forum focused on a wide variety of topics that highlighted just that. Read on for four top takeaways.
When data talks, our industry listens. While the data reveals organizations are not fully benefitting from diversity, equity and inclusion, NMHC's keynote speaker shed light on how our industry could help move the needle. Ruchika Tulshyan, author and expert business strategist, and moderator, Laurie Baker, EVP & COO, Camden Property Trust, discussed what it means to be inclusive and expounded on the importance of intentionality.
“The problem is, when you don’t purposefully have intentional inclusion, you will subconsciously exclude someone,” said Tulshyan. Although workplaces have changed, allyship—actively cultivating an environment that adds to your company's culture and not just sustain it—is crucial to a successful business model.
What the Audience Took Back to Their Teams: Tulshyan provided a sneak peek at five key strategies explored in her newly-released book "Inclusion on Purpose."
- Inclusion requires intention.
- Women of color must be front and center in your efforts.
- Forget culture fit—double down on culture add.
- Reading fiction will help improve empathy.
- Focus on cultural humility, rather than cultural competency.
The Quote that ‘Says It All’: “From my perspective, [diversity, equity and inclusion] are really driven by opportunity," Antonio Marquez of Comunidad Partners explained. “Opportunity for all, opportunity for folks that aspire to build a career or business in this industry. In addition, opportunity is really driven by shared values. Not all of us look the same. Not all of us have the same background. Not all of us have the same cultural experiences. But it’s my belief that shared values drive partnership values.”
Conversation Highlights: Marquez moderated a discussion with Byrdy Kelley of Melan Property Management, Jennifer Searles of Veritas Partners and Yetta Tropper of PGIM Real Estate on different partnership models that translate to superior results.
The apartment industry is an ecosystem propelled by partnerships, including DEI.
Given our industry's vast supplier-partner relationships, dedicating resources to strengthening supplier is a highly impactful component of any DEI commitment.
Conversation Highlights: Setting goals and developing strategies in this space comes with its own unique set of challenges that multifamily firms of all stripes are grappling with. Moderated by NMHC VP of Government Affairs Julianne Goodfellow, panelists—Related Vice Chair Jeff Brodsky, Please ASsist Me CEO Stephanie Cummings, Real Estate Executive Council CEO Ken McIntyre and Nuveen Real Estate Managing Director Pamela West—discussed their perspectives on supplier diversity and the many opportunities it presents.
What the Audience Took Back to Their Teams: A main theme was how to quantify progress—particularly given the challenges around identifying women- and minority-owned businesses and the certification process. Cummings shared her organization’s struggle with the certification, citing various intrusive disclosure requirements and the extensive process that’s taken more than one year. As highlighted by the panelists, some organizations seeking diverse suppliers have forgone using the certification as an indicator. But for those that are required to do so for compliance or disclosure purposes, it’s an immense obstacle for both multifamily firms and diverse business owners.
When it comes to talent management strategies, multifamily, like many industries, may tend to invest resources in sourcing newcomers and retaining veterans at the top, creating a gap in developing diverse talent between the two ends of the spectrum.
Moderator Gemma Burgess of Ferguson Partners and panelists Julie Smith of The Bozzuto Group and Ken Valach of Trammell Crow Residential revisited their own career paths to illustrate how DEI remains important in helping bridge that gap.
The Bigger Picture: Inclusion lies at the core of forward-facing solutions to talent needs, and from onboarding to development and retention. It’s not enough to provide opportunities, as employees cannot succeed without the necessary support, regardless of their backgrounds.
Thank You to All Current NMHC PAC Supporters!
The NMHC PAC is a critical tool that helps elevate the industry’s voice when key discussions take place on Capitol Hill—but we wouldn’t have a seat at the table without your support. If you weren’t able to check out the recognition signage on-site during the 2022 NMHC Leadership Forum, please visit the NMHC PAC Supporters webpage for the current list of top contributors.
Inside the Leadership Forum
Revisit moments from Dallas with photos of peers, comrades and coworkers during speaker panel sessions by clicking here.
Thank you for making this year's NMHC Leadership Forum on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a success. Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2023 NMHC Leadership Forum on DEI, May 8, 2023 at the Four Seasons in Chicago!
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