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Mapping racialized experiences in the real estate development industry: Moving towards a more equitable and inclusive sector

The real estate development sector is a vital part of our economy and plays an important role in all our lives. However, despite an increasingly multicultural population in communities across Canada and the need for affordable housing, our latest research reveals that the makeup of the real estate development industry is far less diverse, particularly among those in leadership roles — only 14% of racialized professionals hold positions in ownership, partner and C-level.

A question less commonly asked—and the important contribution of this paper—is about who is working in the fields that shape the physical form of our cities and what it means when the people creating places for everyone to live, work, and play, do not reflect the diversity of our communities

This research explores the state of racialized folks in real estate development and housing, looks at the opportunities that exist for launching ventures in emerging areas and analyzes primary research with racialized professionals to understand their perspective on the industry and what supports would help them to step into their career aspirations. The authors conducted a comprehensive literature review and primary research by interviewing racialized folks within real estate development or adjacent sectors (construction, urban planning, community-led infrastructure design).

Key insights

Disparities in access to homeownership and housing are not uniform across all racialized groups, as homeownership ranges from being well below average for Black, Filipino, West Asian and Latin American populations, to being well over the national average for Canada’s Chinese population at 85 percent.

Among building trades workers, racialized individuals only represent between 5-7% of apprentices, despite being 22% of the Canadian population.

Increasing diversity and inclusion in leadership positions has been found to make good business sense with ethnic diversity in executive teams and boards across various geographies were found to be linked with greater profitability, increasing the likelihood of financial performance above the national industry median by up to 35%.

What’s next

Monumental Incubator program

Increasing racial diversity in the growing real estate development sector: Canada’s National Housing Strategy to provide all Canadians with appropriate and affordable housing by 2030 is an opportunity to bring more diversity to the housing developing industry. Key players in the national housing strategy such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) agree that skills that are specific to housing development are a critical component to increasing the representation of racialized people as contributors and leaders in the housing sector. However, policy makers have identified social and financial barriers.

Through the Monumental program, we are exploring whether these barriers could be addressed in part with the creation of a BIPOC Real Estate Development Incubator for mid-career Black, Indigenous and People of Colour who are interested in careers in housing development. The incubator aims to build a new cohort of real estate developers across Canada, engaging BIPOC entrepreneurs and innovators and connecting racialized communities with the skills needed to succeed in this growing part of the economy.

The incubator aims to build a new cohort of real estate developers across Canada, engaging BIPOC entrepreneurs and innovators and connecting racialized communities with the skills needed to succeed in this growing part of the economy.  Our pilot cohort will focus on engaging entrepreneurs living in the GTHA. The cohort will launch in April 2023, delivered in partnership with the Infrastructure Institute at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities.  Recruitment will open in February 2023.

For more information on the incubator contact Navtej Saini at navtej@monumentalprojects.ca.

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