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Black Voices in Real Estate: Our Industry Can Lead Change

June 15, 2020

A Note From Matt Slepin

We live in momentous times. We have been living for many months through the COVID pandemic, which has, and will continue to be a topic on Leading Voices and which, as we know, has disproportionately affected people of color in our country. Now, three weeks since the brutal killing of George Floyd was added to the long list of Black people murdered at the hands of the police, we may at long last have reached the tipping point in waking anger and the demand for change among both Black and non-Black leaders from virtually all sectors of the economy and our culture. This week also brought the Supreme Court decision that made it unlawful to discriminate against gay and transgender people in the workplace. We are still in lockdown and we have another five months till a significant election. We indeed live in momentous times.

For my regular listeners, you have heard me repeat many times my belief that what we do in the business of real estate has a significant impact on the world. Sometimes our work makes great contributions but sometimes it has negative effects and ripples. Our industry has done some amazing work in creating fabulous places to live, work and play and the vast majority of industry leaders own, operate, and develop ethically and with respect. But on the negative impact side, for example, we created the suburbs in a racially discriminatory way which intentionally cut Black people out of the wealth creation that their white counterparts enjoyed. And, we know that our industry has long been, and continues to be, a bastion of white male leaders.

We have a mission with Leading Voices. We tell the stories of leaders from across diverse sectors of the real estate industry with their personal pathways to leadership and provide insights into the diverse businesses that they lead. While many of our storytellers have been “older white guys”, we have also heard many voices of women and people of color. Since COVID, we have shifted the perspective on Leading Voices to dig into the substantive issues of the day. Given our momentous times, we will continue this deeper dive focus, particularly with women and people of color, and to explore the ways in which our businesses can make a more positive difference in our communities and our world.

I feel a deep responsibility in the recruiting work I do as the Managing Partner of Terra Search Partners, and with the microphone of Leading Voices to bring these values into our work. As executive recruiters in the real estate industry, we absolutely have an impact on who comes into the executive suite of organizations; with Leading Voices, we have the opportunity to both inspire young people along their real estate career path, as well as have existing share their perspectives with other leaders.

As a Baby Boomer, I am appalled that, during our watch, racial inequality has continued as a systemic and brutal element of our society alongside continued, deep, issues around gender and environmental justice. These are things that our industry must deeply address and I will use my work at Terra Search Partners and the microphone of Leading Voices to do something about it. I hope that you will continue to join me in this exploration.

Matt Slepin
Host of Leading Voices in Real Estate Podcast
Managing Partner of Terra Search Partners

This is a special episode of Leading Voices in Real Estate featuring conversations with six Black real estate leaders, each of whom speaks with Matt about their personal experiences and their thoughts on how our industry can address inequalities and systemic racism in our companies, our work in the built environment, and in the real estate sector broadly.

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