26 Feb Meet New REEC Chair and CRE Diversity Change Agent Tammy Jones
NEW YORK CITY- Professional trade association Real Estate Executive Council is cementing a path for commercial real estate executives of color, and those climbing up the ranks in an industry viewed as the last frontier for racial diversity.
Newly appointed to continue its mission as chair is Tammy Jones, CEO and founder of national commercial real estate investment platform Basis Investment Group. As the first female chair of the board, Jones intends to carry the torch in furthering the organization’s values.
“I want REEC to be recognized as the inclusion change agent for our industry and to break down barriers to ensure that REEC and our members have a seat at the table and have access to opportunity,” Jones tells GlobeSt.com. “That is the legacy I want to leave.”
Founded in 2003, REEC set out to create a community for executives of color to invest, partner, hire and promote entrepreneurship to progress in an industry where there were limited examples to mirror.
The firm’s vision has since grown to include partnerships with commercial real estate firms for diversity initiatives and an immersive pipeline program for diverse high school students called the Real Estate Exchange, formerly known as Project Reap. REEC’s ultimate goal is to ensure the industry moves toward a more diverse representation in step with U.S. demographics, Jones said.
“Our goal is to help diverse talent, particularly African Americans and Latinos advance in the CRE industry from high school up through management or entrepreneurship and even at the board level,” Jones said. “We’re figuring out how to move people up the ranks in many different ways.”
REEC has an estimated 110 members nationwide comprised of senior executives and professionals with at least ten years of experience, across a broad swath of the real estate industry in investment, management, leasing, financing and property development.
Members gather several times throughout the year, providing jobs, awarding grants to local and regional real estate organizations and scholarship funding. The REEC board comprises 9 members, each serving a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms. Jones succeeded Accordia Partners Managing Partner Kirk Sykes as chair of the board.
At the deal level, REEC has done $2 billion of equity and debt transactions and general partner interests, $3 billion of brokerage and advisory transactions and over $600 million in limited partnerships. “At REEC we have created a community where we invest together,” Jones said. “It’s definitely a testimony to believing in each other.”
Investing across the REEC table is imperative, but forging a path of equitable access to professionals of color in commercial real estate is the real draw for the entire industry, Jones explains.
“As CRE investors, we recognize the importance of diversification in building the best portfolios, but yet we don’t extend this basic investment principle to building the best teams. The facts are clear, and study after study shows that diverse teams produce better outcomes.”
According to a McKinsey Company report titled Diversity Matters, which examined proprietary data sets for 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
“You have to recognize we’re in real estate and demographics matter in this industry,” Jones said. “If your company hasn’t improved in diversity over the past 10 or 15 years, then you’re fighting the demographics in an industry where we invest in demographic trends and you have to ask yourself why.”
While diversity challenges won’t change overnight, as REEC continues to grow it is working to execute more corporate and trade organization partnerships to help with their diversity challenges, according to Jones.
“Stop fighting the demos and partner with organizations such as REEC to help you identify or even mentor your diverse talent because we know you can’t do it alone,” she said.