Minneapolis Star Tribune — In the world of commercial real estate, it’s all about who you know. And in an industry that has struggled to diversify, who you know is most likely to be a white man.
The boys-club nature of the business is particularly extreme in leadership roles. But a partnership formed by several Twin Cities trade groups called the Commercial Real Estate Diversity Collaborative has been quietly pushing to change that since 2010.
Bjorik Mutize, a recent St. Cloud State University graduate, was awarded the collaborative’s scholarship last year and now works as a Target store operations executive as well as his own real estate investment company.
Mutize, who is black, said he has noticed firsthand the lack of diversity in the industry in college.
“I found it as an opportunity,” he said. “I definitely had to sometimes get out of my comfort zone to network.”
Kelly Jameson, an assistant professor of finance and real estate at St. Cloud State University, said she tries to encourage her students to consider careers in commercial real estate, but it’s a slow process.
“With what the Diversity Collaborative is doing in partnership with the industry and the universities, pretty soon people will understand and know ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of commercial real estate,’” Jameson said. But for now, she said, “It is kind of this grass-roots start.”