Walker & Dunlop has launched CREUnited, a new alliance that aims to increase minority participation in the commercial real estate industry. The overarching goal is to grow assets under management by minorities.
Manulife Investment Management
Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P.
The partnership covers all aspects of the industry, including leaders and private equity firms, institutional investors, and owners and operators of all asset classes.
Why the emphasis on diversity now?
The commercial real estate industry’s lack of diversity is glaring, and industry leaders agree that transformation is imperative. While minorities account for over 48 percent of the U.S. renter population, according to the U.S. Census, just four percent of real estate companies are owned by women or minorities. According to a study by Harvard University, minority-owned companies control only a little over 1.2 percent of all assets under management (AUM). To bridge this gap, Walker & Dunlop has launched CREUnited – an alliance amongst industry heavyweights and minority-owned businesses – dedicated to increasing minority representation and AUM.
“We have seen good intentions in the industry to increase the participation of minority owners and operators, but real, sustainable change requires the industry to come together,” TJ Edwards, Managing Director of Walker & Dunlop’s Proprietary Capital group. “CREUnited brings together organizations from across the CRE industry – all under one common interest: knocking down barriers that have hindered minority owners and operators from thriving in this industry.”
Real change through a strong alliance
“The collective power of this alliance will help us create real change for all players in the industry. This will create a domino effect resulting in growth of AUM for minority businesses,” said Bo Okoroji, CREUnited Advisory Board Member and Vice President of Investments & Divestments, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “There is also an important element of accountability here – the entire industry is accountable for the change needed to improve diversity, and the corporate partners within this initiative are committed to doing their part to expand ownership and growing representation.”
Developing a blueprint for success
Earlier this year, the alliance hosted a listening session with executives from 11 leading minority-owned CRE firms to commence the initiative. Leaders from Banneker Ventures, Dantes Partners, FLGA, Gateway Merchant Banking, Mohanna Development, New Faze Development, Osso Capital, Rule Enterprises, Standard Real Estate Investments, LA Bolden, and The Menkiti Group shared their personal stories and perspectives to help further illustrate the challenges and obstacles ingrained in the industry.
Stemming from the discussion, CREUnited identified five objectives and developed prospective solutions for each. Collectively, these provide a blueprint for measurable progress.
- Increase transparency through industry reporting and tracking
- Build new channels for minorities to access established professional networks
- Expand access to debt and remove barriers to equity capital
- Assist in expanding the portfolios of minority owners beyond affordable housing to market-rate multifamily and other asset classes, such as retail, office, industrial, and hospitality
- Implement best practices to ensure capital flows from institutional investors to minority-owned firms
Members of CREUnited’s advisory board will oversee these five pillars and foster new partnerships to make tangible progress on these strategies and solutions.
“Walker & Dunlop kickstarted this initiative because our team realized that taking a company-by-company approach to diversity is not enough,” said Willy Walker, Walker & Dunlop Chairman and CEO. “Through the power of partnership, we will transform the industry.”
"The collective power of this alliance will help us create real change for all players in the industry. This will create a domino effect resulting in growth of AUM for minority businesses,” said Bo Okoroji, CREUnited Advisory Board Member and Vice President of Investments & Divestments, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
Learn more about CREUnited here.