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News & opinion

17 FEB 2021

African-American History Month: Representation, Identity and Diversity

This year the theme for African-American History Month is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. In celebration of this Alvah T. Beander, MRICs, will be hosting a series of fireside chats with African American leaders in real estate and construction about their experiences and how the Black family helped shaped their success and how this can benefit future leaders.

Ahead of the fireside chats we caught up with Alvah who is also a member of International Society of Appraisers (ISA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and an Adjunct Business professor, about her thoughts on diversity in the real estate sector.

What attracted you to the real estate sector?

I was exposed as a child to the sector, my family-owned land and “rooming houses” before integration. Uncle Jim, my father’s brother was a mason and we also helped with his business. My late husband was a surveyor and I was the first African American to work in management for Preston C. Caruthers, one of the largest developers in Arlington, Va. Mr. Caruthers, is responsible for me getting a M.B.A.

Have you noticed a change in the diversity of the sector?

My designation in RICS is Art & Antiques. Very little has changed since my entry in 2001. After having leadership in an appraisal organization, I was able to form a group of African American’s to mentor in 2008. The members of Seven Square are now leaders or hold key committee roles in three U.S. appraisal associations. However, today there are under twenty African Americans in the sector that are “qualified appraisers” as defined by the U.S. government. My understanding is the low percentages in the real estate sector may be similar.

What more needs to be done to improve inclusivity?

I’d love to see LICS for RICS:

Listen & Learn from minority members (reverse mentoring)

Invite minority colleagues to the table (leadership)

Create pipelines for advancement

Strive to improve your commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) daily

What message could you give to the next generation of African Americans to encourage them into the real estate sector?

The build community is the infrastructure for all other industries. There are vast opportunities for board skill sets. There is a place for you, find it.

We look forward to Alvah hosting a series of fireside chats with African American leaders in real estate and construction over the coming weeks in celebration of Black History Month. The fireside chats will be available soon and will be shared across our social media channels.