Taking a closer look at this year's Black History Month theme: February is Forever, Emeka Mayes, Muriel Thompson, and Brian Rosen discuss progressive ways to support our Black professionals beyond the month of February. Emeka and Muriel speak about their personal and professional journeys, how seeking mentorship doesn't have to be one-sided, intentionality in relation to Black History Month, and the importance of creating a level playing field in the commercial real estate industry -- and beyond.
Emeka and Muriel, senior leaders at Colliers, both grew up as visible minorities, and during this open and honest conversation, they share valuable insights on overcoming obstacles and succeeding in their respective careers. "Part of the problem is creating an even playing field," Emeka says. She goes on to say that with companies increasingly implementing initiatives like ESG programs and DEI programs, she believes the commercial real estate industry will feel the impact and a more diverse workforce will emerge.
The commercial real estate industry has historically been not centred around DEI; therefore, when it comes to increasing representation within the profession, while progress has been made, there is more work that needs to be done. Our speakers touch on creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce by demonstrating to the next generation how multifaceted commercial real estate is, conveying the many opportunities that exist within the industry – across a myriad of disciplines – and expanding our diversity and inclusion outreach and initiatives.
In addition to recognizing the need to improve diversity from a talent acquisition perspective, Muriel notes the importance of supporting and retaining diverse employees within the company, and continuously "looking at every part of the employee life cycle through a D&I lens."
When discussing the changes that are needed to ensure our Black professionals feel supported and celebrated all year round, both Emeka and Muriel agree that every month needs to be treated like Black History Month. By listening to our professionals, highlighting their achievements, and actioning their feedback, we can take further steps in creating a more inclusive environment.