Project REAP: A Call to Action for Diversity

Call to Action: Project REAP

Project REAP has been serving the commercial real estate (CRE) industry for 20+ years, but considering the current social and professional climate, their work is more important today than ever.

Located in nine cities, including Atlanta, REAP, the Real Estate Associate Program, is considered the “most successful diversity initiative in the commercial real estate industry.” Its mission is to connect minority professionals with commercial real estate companies in need of exceptional talent.

How Does Project REAP Work?

REAP applicants undergo careful selection processes to be chosen for the program. REAP students are typically 25-35 years old, have earned a bachelor’s or advanced degree, have at least one year of professional experience and come from various industries.

REAP classes consist of 25-30 students and offer instruction in the three basic models of real estate: Office + Mixed-Use, Retail + Shopping Centers, and Multi-family. The 10-week, 20-class program is offered in the fall and spring.

Project REAP Call to Action

Recent events highlight the already-existing need for immediate action to help remedy the CRE industry’s lack of diversity. Considering this, Project REAP recently released “A Call to Action for the C-Suites of Commercial Real Estate Firms & Fortune 500 Companies.” I encourage you to read it.

Within the document, Project REAP identifies seven “intentional actions to integrate communities of color into the CRE industry.” The actions are highlighted below, but are expanded upon in the document.

  • Embrace diversity: Investing in diversity is a competitive advantage.
  • Be an ally: Partner with Project REAP, HBCUs and minority professional organizations.
  • Be intentional about diversity: Actively recruit minority professionals for interviews.
  • Align supplier diversity to CEO compensation: Create a supplier diversity plan; tie key performance indicators to CEO’s compensation.
  • Invest with diverse sponsors: “Greenline” minority communities with access to debt and equity capital.
  • Invest in your investment: Support minority employees’ participation in trade associations.
  • Share your network: Include minority hires in professional and social circles.

Diversity & Inclusion: Moving Forward

The CRE industry is one of the least diverse industries, “in part by historic design, in part by reinforcing market practices,” according to Project REAP.

Yet again, I’m driven to review internal practices at my firm and re-examine our recruitment processes to discover how we can be more intentional in not only thinking about diversity and inclusion, but actively incorporating new practices into our work.