FAMU Partners with Front Street to Address Diversity Gap in Commercial Real Estate

"I'm extremely proud to work for an organization that is proactive in initiating change in areas that provide opportunities for a diverse group of people and organizations. Please click here to read the latest article from Tallahassee Democrat about how Front Street is partnering with Florida A&M University to bridge the diversity gap in the Commercial Real Estate industry."
- Jason Hurst, Front Street Associate Director


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Diversity Issues in CRE

Front Street making strides to change diversity issues that have long plagued the CRE industry

By Jason J Hurst, MBA, Front Street Associate Director

Throughout my life, my family has purposely made efforts to expose me to various cultures and races. This has been a very integral part of my development and understanding in dealing with people. This understanding was only furthered when I made the decision to attend Florida A&M University and enroll in their business school's acclaimed 5-year MBA program.  This program's visionary leadership afforded me, and several other young African-Americans, the opportunity to increase our exposure to Fortune 500 firms, both internationally and domestically, and bridge the diversity gap that plagues so my corporate atmospheres. There is power in diversity. Diversity creates a melting pot of thought, ideas and experiences from several different backgrounds and molds them into beautiful outcomes that can change the world. 

My career experiences have led me to a lucrative career in commercial real estate with a firm that is truly inclusive, innovative and has allowed me to operate on a platform to effectuate change in communities throughout Florida. Through our company’s “INVESTED” program, we donate 10% of our brokerage revenue to cause related organizations in the communities within which we do business. 

One cause I am personally committed to championing is to address the alarming absence of diversity in our industry. While many industries have recognized the need and have made proactive strides to address the issue, the commercial real estate industry severely lags behind all others. It has been characterized by many publications, including the Wall Street journal, to be the least diverse industry in all of the available industry categories. In a recent study entitled The Commercial Real Estate Diversity Report compiled by professionals at CREDiversity.com, some alarming data was compiled to further illustrate the vast diversity gap in the CRE industry:

The breakdown below shows the dispersion of 4-year, college educated individuals between the ages of 25 to 64 years-old across the different racial backgrounds in America:

•    White women: 39.5% 
•    White men: 36.7% 
•    Black, Asian or Hispanic: 23.8%  

In theory, the various industries in America’s workforce should mirror these concentrations.  However, data suggests the concentration of minorities in the commercial real estate tells an entirely different story.

Among CRE Senior Executives (13,773 jobs)
•    White men: 77.6% 
•    White women: 14.1% 
•    Hispanic men: 2.9% 
•    Asian men: 1.6%  
•    Black males: 1.3%  
•    Each minority female category: Hispanic women, Asian women, Black women, and Other women: hold less than 1% of Senior Executive jobs

Among CRE Mid Level Managers (47,844 jobs) 
•    White men: 68.9%
•    White women: 16.8%

•    Hispanic men: 4.7%
•    Black males: 2%
•    Hispanic Women: 1.9% 
•    Asian men: 1.8% 
•    Black Women 1.7%
•    Asian Women: 1.1%

CRE Professionals (61,073 jobs) 
•    White men: 58.5%
•    White women: 21.6%
•    Asian men: 4.4% 
•    Hispanic men: 4.2%
•    Asian Women: 3.4%
•    Black males: 2.4%
•    Hispanic Women: 2.0% 
•    Black Women 2.0%

As you can see, a tremendous amount of work needs to be done to bridge the diversity gap in our industry.  Over the years, our great country has become much more diverse.  This should be reflected in the way we do business in every industry.  The men and women of minority cultures should have a voice and a platform to share thoughts, ideas and make contributions to the direction of this great nation.  The problem won’t be solved overnight, but it starts with presenting the facts of the case in ways like this.  It starts with strongly considering organizations’ approaches to inclusion and hiring processes to make shifts in corporate cultures that champion diversity.  It starts with partnering with great organizations like the Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry to create exposure to the wonderful opportunities in the CRE industry and educating them as to the path to success in this industry.  I am very grateful to work with an organization such as Front Street Commercial Real Estate who saw talent in me, a minority, and has created a platform to champion such a cause in our industry.  It only takes one spark to start a flame of change.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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