Real estate, like many industries, faces significant challenges when it comes to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Historically, participants in the business of real estate have been straight, cisgender, white men. This real estate participant trope has systemic roots, for example, because of years of legal and permissible restrictions on the ability of women and people of color to own real estate or secure financing. However, at its heart, real estate is a business, and in that regard, lends itself to meritocratic trends. Given the current interest in advancing DEI across all sectors, diverse participants can take advantage of this moment to overcome some of the challenges to full participation in the real estate industry.
With the above in mind, on February 23, 2023, the ABA’s Real Estate, Condemnation, and Trust Committee, a subsection of the Litigation Section, hosted a virtual roundtable co-moderated by Julia Emfinger and LaFonda Willis, who discussed diversity in the real estate industry with panelists Jodi Borges-Bradley (IA Interior Architects), Rod Mullice (Windsor Stevens Holdings), Rosemary Swierk (Direct Steel LLC), and Maribel N. Nicholson-Choice (Greenberg Traurig, LLP). They discussed DEI issues in the real estate industry and gave the following insight and advice.