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Diversity and Inclusion is More Than an HR Initiative

  Over the past several months, there have been many articles, forums, discussions, focus groups, and webinars on the need for more diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business. And while there have been many valuable points made and practices shared, there are three themes that have particularly stood out to me. 1. Diversity and Inclusion is not an HR initiative. I really appreciate hearing the clear stance that diversity, equity, and inclusion is NOT simply an HR initiative. I absolutely agree that it's not. It's a company value that can only be successful when it begins with executive leadership, whether that means the owner, CEO, president, or leadership team - it starts squarely with them. Based on a recent Swift Bunny Employee Engagement Study, out of the Top 10 things that matter most to employees, the 3 common topics that are shared between Corporate, Regional and On-Site employees are:   Senior management creates a positive work environment  I respect senior management  Senior management has communicated a clear vision for the company  How executive leadership talks to, talks about, includes, encourages, promotes, challenges, and values each employee is noticed and emulated. Diversity and inclusion begins with them. Human resources certainly manages many key aspects, but their work will never achieve real and enduring change without action from the top. 2. The Importance of a Diversity and Inclusion Employee Survey I've been very impressed and heartened at the number of multifamily companies who are considering or have already rolled out a Diversity......
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Overcoming Hurdles - Pegasus Interview with Two Apartment Industry Leaders


It is so refreshing that more discussions are happening on diversity and inclusion in America, and I stumbled upon an absolutely fantastic video produced by Pegasus Residential on the topic.  I highly recommend watching this enlightening conversation with Dana Hill, Marci French, and hosted by Bevan White.   I think it is absolutely worth watching the entire video, but here are some of the experiences and challenges that they faced growing in their career.  I will try not to editorialize too much below, but it did make in impact when thinking about the differences between their experiences and someone like myself.  The weight and gravity to everything they have to do in order to excel is inspiring, but also unfortunate in that those roadblocks should not exist in the first place. Dana Hill shared a wonderful quote from a session she attended:  “Diversity is being invited to the dance.  Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Dana talked about the importance of mentorship, advocating for others, preparation, and the responsibility of representing countless others:  “I feel the pressure daily in every room I am invited into to be well prepared and to represent my community with excellence.”  She was not just representing herself and her company, as she felt the pressure of being a strong ambassador for other people of color. Marci reflected on having to navigate being one of the few (or only) women in the room, and then began to realize she was the only person of color in the room, a......
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Four Keys to Building Diversity

Four Keys to Building Diversity
Diversity. It's one of the hottest "hot button" issues in the workplace today. Data and real-world experience tell us that embracing diversity and inclusion (in all forms) and harnessing our differences creates higher-performing teams. Yet our experiences also tell us that this is often easier said than done.    The fact of the matter is that we ARE different. We have many things that do differentiate us from one another. And it IS often hard to bridge those gaps because we all think our way is the right way.    But something can be done!   I spent much of my childhood in Hawaii. Growing up in Hawaii is an interesting experience because no one ethnic group is in the majority. Now, the one thing I will say is that “Asians" as a general group outnumber the other groups, even though each individual Asian community would be adamant that they were different than the other Asian groups! So when I looked around a room, while I didn’t always see people who were exactly like me, I did see lot of people who looked similar.    Then my parents moved to Southern California while I was in high school and I realized I was firmly in the minority! While that did feel weird at first, thankfully, my friends didn’t treat me any differently just because I looked different from many of them.  I was just “Rommel” and not a member of a group. Likewise, I saw my friends as “Mike” or “Shelley” or “Tammy” and not as a member o......
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Musings on diversity and inclusion in multifamily - you, too, suppliers!

Musings on diversity and inclusion in multifamily - you, too, suppliers!
No, no - this isn't a political post! Although timely, there's certainly enough conversation going on about that on other forums. My musings flow from having attended last week's National Multifamily Housing Council's (NMHC) annual meeting in San Diego. Among the many enlightening sessions, one that really resonated with me was the panel titled "An Imperative for Future Business Success: Walking the Talk on Diversity & Inclusion." Really strong panel, and really great content. An oft-quoted source during the discussion was a McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2016 study, you can view an excerpt from the report here. There was nothing tremendously surprising, of course -- we still have a long way to go as a nation and as an industry to create true diversity and inclusion (and earning parity) for not just women, but all ethnicities, races and orientations. It was extremely encouraging, however, to see that not only did NMHC have a general session devoted to the topic, but that they have a Diversity and Inclusion committee. This high-powered organization and many of its extremely visible members are activity embracing this challenge and creating business strategies (and in some cases departments) devoted to expanding the cultural vision, values and hiring practices around including diversity of thought and individual in the workplace. Refreshing. Necessary. Smart. Right. But as someone who hails from the supplier side of the business, it really got me thinking. Indulge me while I wax anecdotal here . . . but while we seem to have a large......
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