REIT Industry Hits Gender Diversity Milestone

The REIT industry is beginning to make some headway on diversity, and this year it hit a significant milestone:

The real-estate investment trust sector has named a record number of women to board positions in 2018, a sign that this mostly male-dominated industry is reacting to pressure on American corporations to diversify.

Of the 94 REIT directors newly elected during the spring proxy season, 49—or 52%—are women, according to a study by Ferguson Partners, a professional services firm specializing in executive and board recruitment. It was the first time men comprised less than the majority of the new directors, Ferguson Partners said.

REITs also did much better than the overall market. In 2018, 32% of newly elected directors in the Russell 3000 are women.

That doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done on the diversity front – the article also notes that just 17.5% of all directors on REIT boards – but that number should continue to grow because REITs are starting to adjust outdated recruiting standards so they can consider a more diverse slate of candidates. Oh, and it ends up its good business:

REITs with more than the average percentage of women on its boards (15.5%) achieved higher average price and total returns between 2006-2017, according to a report by Wells Fargo Securities analysts Jeff Donnelly and Dori Kesten published in March.