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Increasing diversity in the real estate industry a job for all of us

An industry as critical to the City’s future as real estate should reflect its diversity. Admittedly, we have much work to do on this front.

Making progress will require sustained effort and focus. REBNY has formed a Diversity Working Group, led by Darcy Stacom and Bernard Warren, to work with staff to devise programs and strategies to advance diversity efforts. Strides are being made on two fronts.

This summer we launched a new Real Estate Internship Program as part of the Ladders for Leaders program, in partnership with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. 

The inaugural REBNY/DYCD Real Estate Internship class includes forty-six young adults who have been placed into paid summer internships at leading New York real estate firms including CBRE, The Durst Organization, Charles H. Greenthal & Company, Industry City (Jamestown
Properties), Rose Associates, Rudin Management Company, SL Green, Tishman Speyer, and Webb & Brooker. Additionally, the NYC Department of Buildings has employed five REBNY- sponsored summer interns.

The interns are learning important skills through hands-on workplace experiences as well as a program designed to foster meaningful and long-lasting connections. The cohort attends weekly events organized by REBNY, such as Q&A sessions with industry leaders and speaker events and tours of key development sites across the City. While Ladders for Leaders has been connecting interested New Yorkers with internships for years, we are excited to partner with them and include the real estate industry in the program.

These internships will be a worthwhile investment in both the individual
participants, and future of our industry. Many thanks to Mariya Lyubman of REBNY for making this summer’s Real Estate Internship Program a reality.

Our commitment to fostering workplace diversity means attracting and retaining talent to all sectors of the industry. Another such effort of great importance is Building Skills New York (BSNY) – a non-profit that connects underserved New Yorkers with jobs at our local construction sites.

Building Skills has been in existence since 2012, but REBNY got actively engaged with the organization in 2017 through fundraising and additional job placements.

Under the leadership of David Meade and his talented team, the program has grown exponentially.

In 2019, Building Skills has already completed over 185 job placements — all of them New York City residents, 98 percent identify as black or Latino. That is a 70 percent increase in the number of placements from one year ago and a seven-fold increase from the number of placements just three years ago.

Moreover, BSNY has added almost 1,000 candidates to its pipeline, all of whom we eventually hope will be placed in quality jobs as well. BSNY focuses on job retention and long-term continuous employment opportunities for every candidate it serves.

The next challenge for Building Skills will be to continue to grow the number of placements, while helping to create an environment in which these individuals acquire more job skills and find access to comprehensive industry skills training resulting in marked career advancement.

Real positive change will require continued support and nurturing of programs like Building Skills New York and the Real Estate Internship Program.

It will also require similar efforts, focus and commitment on other fronts impacting senior and middle level management as well as contractors.

We are committed to providing the focus, commitment and resources necessary to produce such change so that the real estate industry reflects the City as a whole.

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