ORLANDO-Although the good ol’ boys network in the executive suites still abounds in many parts of the country, metro Orlando brokers and real estate company owners say they would welcome talented minority professionals to their upper-level offices if they could find them.
The problem, they tell GlobeSt.com, is there aren’t that many qualified minority real estate executives on the playing field yet. Take Realvest Partners Inc. in suburban Maitland, for example.
“I see no barrier (for minorities) to top management due to race,” Realvest’s founder/president George D. Livingston tells GlobeSt.com. “Experience, ability and success rules.”
At his own firm, Livingston concedes hiring minorities of either gender to middle management and top-level positions, has been challenging and not always successful.
“I have personally found it hard to recruit minority brokers, and we have tried,” says Livingston, a longtime committee member of FIABCI, the Paris-based organization of international corporate real estate executives.
Realvest Partners has one African American broker. The company’s controller is also African-American. Realvest is also scouting for an Arabic-speaking broker.
“For minority brokers to advance, they first need experience and then success at what they had been doing,” Livingston tells GlobeSt.com. “Keep in mind that until recently there were few minorities in this business,” he says. “In many cities, for many years, you saw few women running real estate companies or brokerages, but that is not true anymore.”
Livingston says “the same will be true for minorities if they get into the field and can prove themselves.”
Crashing the good ol’ boys network need not be a concern for minorities if they apply themselves and produce in the real estate arena, contends Dean Fritchen, senior associate, Arvida Realty Services Commercial Division, Winter Park, FL.
“Real estate is one of the last bastions of pure capitalism, and capitalism really cares little about your ethnicity,” Fritchen, a former corporate communications director at New York’s Madison Square Garden, tells GlobeSt.com. “It cares about whether you produce or not.”
He says, “possibly in the structured world of New York where people are hired and fired working for a large company, there could be some minority considerations.”
However, “in the world that exists here in Central Florida, we all see and work with a rainbow of players having a great array of backgrounds, beliefs and ancestry, which makes them interesting as individuals.”
But, Fritchen says, “in mutually pursuing a defined real estate objective, this does not matter and is irrelevant.” He says, “true ethnic codes can vary, but here, too, the basics are universal, so a person can be as successful as is his willingness to produce results.”
The Arvida broker says, “In real estate, this is only limited by the individual’s head. In most of this world, there is not that much middle management because most of us who labor in this vineyard are easily and directly measured by our production, be it in sales, hours of labor or ideas.”
Aware of the minority executive issue, the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute in Chicago is allocating about one third of its 2002 national advertising campaign to diversity issues, hoping to attract more minority candidates to its CCIM designation program.
“Clearly, diversity is in the minds of industry leaders,” Robin L. Webb, a member of the national CCIM Management team and vice president/managing broker, Arvida Realty Services Commercial Division, Winter Park, FL, tells GlobeSt.com.