April 12, 2021

CRC’s Crystal Frey, Vice President of HR and Shared Services Discusses the Importance of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity


The past year has seen a myriad of large organizations championing their focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This includes some of the largest names in industry such as Salesforce, General Motors,and Slack.

Visible and tangible ways to help
But, what do we specifically mean when we refer to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? Perhaps more to the point, what has Continental Realty Corporation done on this front since our CEO, JM Schapiro, sent his significant memo titled “We Can Do Better” last Spring? In that memo, he reflected on the death of George Floyd and challenged himself and all of us at CRC to find visible and tangible ways to help.

There is an overwhelming amount of information and misinformation around this topic, so I thought a good place to start would be with a basic definition of terms.

Diversity is about the many ways people are different. Organizations that are focusing on diversity are working to encourage teams with a diverse group of team members.

Inclusion relates to the quality of the experience within the organization. Working to increase diversity in the workplace is only one part of the equation. Organizations are also working to build frameworks that will make people feel valued and encouraged at work. This may include an examination of the organization’s policies, practices, and processes.

Equity is about treating people fairly and promoting fairness within processes, procedures, and resource distribution. One common misconception is that equity is about treating everyone the same. It is not about treating everyone the same – it is about treating the individual fairly. Those who have taken some of my CRU classes have heard me say this: Equitable and fair treatment is not identical treatment. This is because individuals are not identical nor are their situations.

2nd quarter training
Since the committee first formed to vet and award donations of $30,000 each to two worthy Baltimore-based charities, it has re-formed and made good progress thanks to the tireless and enthusiastic efforts of my fellow committee members Melanie Allender, Nick DePriest-Bishop, David Donato, Rachel Duncan, Tiaja Gresham, Scott Hamlin, Jessica Johnson, Amanda Kimbers, Matt McNeeley, Dana Ricks, Lisa Stewart, and Dominique Threatt.

You will soon begin to see specialized training around D & I as part of on-boarding, included in selected CRU courses, and as managerial training sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2021. We have been working with a consultant to help design and deliver this training.

Recruitment strategies
Some of our members are working on expanding our pool of qualified candidates by working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to establish recruitment pipelines and provide training in the real estate industry as guest speakers. We have also become a sponsor  of project REAP, an organization that has been recruiting and training people of color for roles in commercial real estate.

Collaboration and community
A third group is working to help the site staff and the main office staff become better acquainted, ideally leading to more collaboration and a more diverse set of candidates for main office roles. Finally, some of our committee team members are focusing on how we can make a difference in the greater community both through the power of our buying decisions and branding. We are researching the best practices in sourcing and using minority-owned businesses to service our properties. In addition, we have worked with our Marketing team to design a social media plan that will incorporate D & I concepts and champion the diversity of our amazing CRC team.

We believe these are solid first steps. This will be a journey we will all take together. But, my experience here has taught me that we are at our finest when we are all working together to make CRC stronger. I look forward to taking this journey with you.