As recent as 10 years ago many major corporations' workforces were dominated by white males. Today, however, the ethnic and gender makeup of the workforce is evolving as the number of minorities in the United States increases.
In 2005, the nation's minority population totaled 98 million or 33 percent of the country's 296.4 million residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau information.
As corporate America diversifies, corporate leadership is beginning to follow the trend. The real estate industry, however, is lagging behind: Less than 1 percent of the more than 100,000 people employed in the real estate industry are black, according to information from the Real Estate Executive Council, a national minority real estate consortium.
The industry is not ignoring the issue. Diversity has become an industry watchword, and real estate management companies are trying to catch up to the rest of the country's businesses.
"People say real estate is the last faction where, essentially, the walls have to come down," said Ron Whitley, chief diversity officer at Cushman & Wakefield, an international real estate services firm based in New York. "If you look back on the history of the industry, it has always been almost a closed industry in terms of networking and relationship building. That is starting to change, but that change is happening very slowly."
CHANGING FACE OF REAL ESTATE
Albeit a slow shift, the real estate industry has begun paying attention to diversifying the profession because of a sweeping demographic transformation in the U.S. workforce.
The white, working-age population is projected to decline from 82 percent of the workforce in 1980 to 63 percent in 2020, according to information from the …