Trailblazers, innovators, and disruptors shape today’s new entrepreneurial normal, and nowhere is that truer than in the housing industry. Today’s successful companies stand out for their ingenuity, uniqueness, complexity and supercharged pace of technological change. Staying at the forefront of change requires extraordinary understanding and agility. Hiring for conventional skills and academic credentials is still essential, but sometimes the unconventional will trump traditional talent.
How should this factor into your real estate hiring?
When it comes to problem-solving and creative innovation, diverse teams regularly outperform their counterparts. Environments where “outside the box” ideas are heard, valued, and implemented further invoke this type of catalytic market-driven change. For example, in a real estate business the need for lead generation is constant and that process must evolve continuously. If you are struggling with effective, profitable lead generation, a different perspective could make all the difference.
Diversity in your business, be it gender-based, ethnically based, or socioeconomically based, will help bring in a variety of perspectives that will likely enable you to tackle the problem from many different angles and find a productive solution. Furthermore, if your company meets certain criteria, you may qualify for certain advantageous entrepreneurial classifications (more on that in a minute).
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your company composition. Interestingly, these are also highly effective marketing questions routinely used to help advertisers identify the best channels through which to reach their target markets:
Where are you?
If your lead generation is not working as well as you would like, maybe you are not visible in the right places to reach your leads. A team with multifaceted perspectives on housing, for example, may help you identify the “weak link” in your marketing process.
Who are you?
Can you state, clearly and concisely, who you are (as an investor or a company) and what you want to accomplish? If not, then you probably are not conveying your message convincingly to your target market either. Bring in every voice in your business as you craft this statement for maximum effect.
To whom are you speaking?
If you are not speaking to someone just like you, then the resource of a diverse employee population will serve you well. Different backgrounds and genders will give everyone on your team the ability to see a situation a little differently and help you craft a message that is compelling to your audience.
Show Me the Money
If you’re thinking, “Sure, this is great. More viewpoints in my business could improve my marketing and I’ll bear that in mind moving forward,” then I’m happy to hear it. However, there is a lot more to real estate-business diversity than the valuable-but-often-intangible benefits. There are also some pretty serious cash incentives for small businesses that are “certified” in certain areas of diversity.
For example, of the $500 billion in contracts awarded by the federal government each year, the U.S. government has a stated goal of awarding more than one-fifth of that money (22 percent), to small businesses, and, in this area, gender-diverse and woman-owned businesses tend to have an advantage. There are a number of ways to go about “proving” your business is diverse – including owned by a woman, a minority, a veteran, or certain other eligible populations – and these types of certifications can give you a competitive edge. Mentorship, preparation, and knowledge can position certified diverse businesses for opportunities worth potentially millions.
There are also opportunities in the real estate investment trust (REIT) space, thanks to wider adoption of policies and initiatives based on research indicating boards of directors with experiences across a broader spectrum tend to make better investment decisions for their investors. As a result, many REIT clients are adopting “diversity mandates,” which can benefit individuals seeking positions on such boards and investors with businesses that are officially classified so as to meet such standards.
Rosalind Booker is the principle broker-owner at Arbrook Realty LLC and a National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB) board member and certified delegate spokeswoman. She may be reached at Roz@arbrookrealty.com.