In June 2020, we introduced our company-wide response to discrimination and injustice which focuses on actionable support of equity and change. That effort is spearheaded by a select group of Focus team members who make up the JEDI Committee (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion). The goal of that committee is to research, analyze and recommend strategies for Focus build a more equitable future for our company and the CRE industry overall.
We acknowledge that the process of change is ongoing, and the committee will continue to develop recommendations for action. One of those actions is to help create a workforce which more accurately reflects our community. The deep-rooted lack of diversity in the CRE industry is due in part to the inequitable access to quality education and opportunities for minorities. That fact is at the center of the action plan developed by our JEDI committee and, as such many, of the steps we plan to take aim to address it.
In our last post we discussed our local partnerships including one with Chicago Scholars, which provides supportive intern and educational programs for high-performing students from underserved communities, some of whom are interested in the CRE industry. Here we will focus on a new partnership which aims to provide similar support beyond the classroom.
Project REAP, a national organization aims “to advance
diversity, equity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry through
education, mentorship, and partnerships,” and has programs in 9 major markets
including Chicago, LA and Dallas. Since its founding over 10 years ago, Project
REAP has contributed to an increase in the number of minority professionals
serving in management positions from around 2% to over 10%, with over 500 of
the program’s graduates serving in leadership roles today. The Real Estate
Associate Program (REAP) is a competitive and selective program which attracts
credentialed professionals across the AEC industry and presents business
opportunities for like-minded professionals.
As a corporate sponsor, Focus not only contributes financially to the organization but also hosts networking events and tours for fellows in the program. The latest such event was a tour for the Chicago chapter through Focus’ most recently completed project, 167 Green. Fellows joined Focus CEO Tim Anderson and members of the Focus JEDI Committee for a tour of the space, a conversation with the project lead and company leadership, and happy hour in the building’s 17th floor amenity suite.
Additionally, Focus has sponsored several of its own team members to participate in the Project REAP program, including Development Manager Vic Howell. “The Real Estate Associate Program provided insight into aspects of commercial real estate that I had not been exposed to in the past,” said Howell. Each cohort is made up of associates from across the CRE industry and helps to establish connections in an industry where networking is critical. “The community that Project REAP creates nurtures connections which are vital to a successful career in real estate,” Howell added.
Focus Project Manager, Bhavin Pardiwala, will also be participating in the program as a fellow in their upcoming fall cohort and the company will continue to offer exposure for Project REAP fellows where possible. This partnership is just one aspect of the company’s evolving commitment to a more equitable future. If you would like to learn more about how Focus is working to create lasting change, or to become an ally in our pursuits, please reach out today.
To learn more about partnering with or participating in Project REAP, please visit their website.