National – Project REAP: Diversifying the Talent Pipeline in CRE for 25 Years, a just-released, in-depth nationwide research study, documents that the strategic programming of the Real Estate Associate Program (REAP) has been the catalyst for professionals of color to transition into and build successful careers in commercial real estate (CRE) for a quarter century.
Commissioned in honor of REAP’s 25th anniversary, the report evaluated data and conducted in-depth interviews to help REAP gain quantitative and qualitative insights into the long-term impact of the organization. REAP is designed for high-achieving credentialed professionals who seek to transfer from such fields as law, banking, architecture, and sales into CRE or to pivot from one sphere of real estate, often residential, to commercial. Data was needed to corroborate anecdotal evidence that REAP creates opportunities by preparing participants through knowledge gain, confidence and skill- building to enter the highest levels in the industry and its varied sectors (i.e. brokerage, retail with corporate real estate divisions, development, finance and more.).
According to the report, the CRE industry can no longer claim a dearth of multicultural candidates qualified for intermediate to executive level positions. From the Academy, REAP’s foundation, providing expert instruction to fill knowledge gaps, through the development of networking and leadership skills and mentorships, REAP acts as a conduit for participants to transition into CRE or take existing careers to a higher level. The report challenges the industry to hire, form joint venture partnerships, and provide capital to engage the robust talent pipeline REAP cultivates.
REAP Executive Director Manikka Bowman says, “The report affirms through data and interviews what we knew to be true: REAP enables and empowers our alumni to achieve meaningful advancement in commercial real estate, a traditionally legacy driven industry vastly under-represented by professionals of color. By clearly documenting the positive results of targeted programming to enrich the talent pool, the report not only asserts the success of REAP but, moreover, points the industry to a rich resource of diverse talent prepared and ready to occupy all levels including the elusive C-Suite.”
In June of 2022, Bowman hired Rivera Consulting Inc., a Boston-based management and strategy consultancy helmed by a woman of color, to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment. Questionnaires were disseminated online to all 1,700 REAP alumni. Survey data was broken into three categories: Knowledge Gain; Knowledge into Practice; and Creating a Diverse Talent Pipeline. A statistically significant sample of 270 alumni responded, over 15% of all surveyed. Five case studies were included in the report with alumni drawn from key REAP markets nationwide to offer a broad overview of experiences.
Some key survey responses stood out:
- 71 % transitioned into, maintained or enhanced their positions in CRE
- 56% reported a significant shift in their career trajectory soon after graduation from the academy
- 46% of alumni making $100K or higher reported significant salary increases – as much as 13 % reporting an increase to over $200,000K after completing the REAP Academy
- 34% elevated to senior (20%) or executive (14%) level roles within CRE
- 85% said their approach to exploring new CRE professional goals, career paths, or entrepreneurial opportunities was substantially impacted
Bowman released the report to the media and attendees at the annual ICSC Conference held May 21-23 in Las Vegas. ICSC was REAP’s initial administrator and financial supporter and remains an active platinum sponsor.