Changing the CRE Industry Requires Action – Support the CREST Internship Program

Dear NAIOP Members & Friends,

Diversity, equity & inclusion are a priority for NAIOP Massachusetts and our leadership, but we recognize that we must do more to advance change across the industry. Small incremental change is no longer enough. Real change will happen when all companies – and senior leadership – commit to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.

Talent recruitment programs designed to introduce college students of color to commercial real estate are essential. NAIOP is proud to be a supporter of the Commercial Real Estate Success Training (CREST) Program, a comprehensive initiative to support commercial real estate companies in their commitment to attract underrepresented college students of color and women to the industry through summer internships. With broader industry support, more students can be placed in these internships. Please see the request below from NAIOP Members Tom O’Brien and Dick Galvin on one simple step your firm can take right now to change the industry for the better. 

CREST and the future of this industry need your support. To sign up today, please contact Milton Benjamin at mbenjamin@kagegrowth.com or by phone at (617) 930-3402.

Tamara Small & Reesa Fischer

Dear Friends in NAIOP, 

We certainly hope that all of you and your families, employees, and partners, are staying healthy and safe during this incredibly challenging time for all of us. We are especially mindful of all of the frontline workers in our industry, whether in construction, building management, hospitality staff, or any position that is potentially in harms way, we want to salute them.

We write this letter on the eve of the NAIOP sponsored CRE Summit on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, set for June 24th. As events have unfolded since the tragic death of George Floyd, and a national conversation about racism and its effects has emerged that has been long overdue, our industry must continue to engage on these issues, and find concrete solutions that create real change going forward. 

We continue to believe that a key component of those solutions is the ongoing commitment and support of the CREST program. Under Milton Benjamin’s incredible leadership, CREST has continued to grow, and offer the kind of internship opportunities to young women and students of color that simply would not be there without this focused effort. This summer in particular was poised to be the best yet, with 40 students selected and ready to go, and participation from a wide range of companies and organizations big and small. Then COVID-19 hit and the world turned upside down. 

The commitments for many of these kids dried up, and the internship program changed dramatically, both in size and execution. Right now we have only nine interns placed, a huge reduction in both participation and support for the program. We recognize that all of us have taken huge hits to our budgets, including painful decisions about layoffs, salary reductions, and other draconian measures. But we also recognize, and hope you do too, that now is the exact moment to continue our commitment to CREST, and ramp it up even further. As our friend Kirk Sykes likes to say, “diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” 

We ask two things of this group. First, if you had considered an intern before, but decided to back out, please reconsider, if possible. We know it’s late in the game, but for many of these kids, even a short term opportunity is meaningful. More importantly, we need to recognize that CREST needs long term support and commitment, both in intern support, and sponsorship. As we move to a more open business environment, and your business opens up, please think about how you might participate in this important program. We want to have these discussions later this summer and fall, and we want to ensure that CREST is positioned for greater success next summer, and beyond. 

We know that this group is filled with passionate, supportive people and companies who are ready to take this moment, and the discussions we’re having, and convert them to action that can change people’s lives, and change the Boston CRE industry for the positive. We must accept the challenge, and continue to what is now necessary to make this change happen. 

Sincerely,

Tom O’Brien, The HYM Investment Group, LLC

Dick Galvin, Accordia Partners