Kaye/Bassman Managing Director Jeff Wittenberg Featured in BizNow

Kaye/Bassman Managing Director Jeff Wittenberg Featured in BizNow


Kaye/Bassman Managing Director Jeff Wittenberg Featured in BizNow, “Another Generation Of White CRE C-Suites: How Equal Opportunity Laws Are Holding Back Diversification”

Plano, TX | 2/12/2018
By Cameron Sperance and Jon Banister


The C-suites at the largest firms in commercial real estate are starkly white, but industry experts say federal hiring laws can cause even the most ambitious diversity campaigns to take generations to show results. Legal experts say it is more complicated than that, and people of color in the industry argue little, if any, progress has been made in recent years.

Even if the industry is looking to change its complexion, it could take years before African-American representation in commercial real estate reflects that of the larger U.S. population. Hiring laws, recruiters say, prevent hiring a diverse executive board at the flip of a switch. “The EEOC says you can’t hire on the basis of race,” said Jeff Wittenberg, managing director at Dallas-based recruiting and search firm Kaye/Bassman. “Bottom line, you have to consider everyone, but, yes, absolutely, companies have said, ‘We want to hire the best, and we’d be really thrilled if they were ‘X.’ It is a needle in a haystack, unfortunately.”
Wittenberg heads Kaye/Bassman’s AEC and real estate practice and has worked at staffing companies in the industry for 25 years. While he does not rule out the possibility of companies shying away from diverse hires, Wittenberg said he had never experienced it personally when looking to match potential employees with companies. “I haven’t seen prejudice,” Wittenberg said. “If anything, I’m seeing quite the opposite with a lot of companies, particularly the bigger ones. Larger organizations have HR initiatives to increase the number of minority hires, whether it’s African-American or female.” Construction work with federal entities often comes with a certain level of minority participation, he added. Developers and construction companies would have to recognize their complexion should look different if they want a chance at successfully landing a contract. But implementing change can be difficult. African-Americans accounted for only 4.6% of commercial real estate in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some say it will take more than well-intentioned diversity hiring initiatives to bring noticeable change.

Read more: https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/commercial-real-estate/african-american-commercial-real-estate-diversity-84811

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