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Building careers through inclusion: A look at IREM’s DISI program

IREM’s Diversity & Inclusion Succession Initiative (DISI) is a career development program designed to elevate the careers of IREM members and employees of AMO organizations, especially those of marginalized identity. DISI’s mission is to equip new and rising real estate management professionals with the skills to thrive as CPMs. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have always been important to IREM, and even more so since the early 2000s. Let’s take a look at its history and how DISI has evolved through DEI at IREM.

Before we get into the DISI program, we must first acknowledge the IREM Diversity Task Force, organized in 2007. This taskforce was appointed to analyze and make recommendations on how to attract and welcome a diverse membership to IREM through career advancement, education, and certification. The Task Force recognized that, as an international institute and leader in real estate management, IREM needed to prioritize opportunities to make diverse groups part of the IREM community.

One of the primary projects for the Task Force was to learn more about diversity initiatives among IREM chapters. They surveyed chapters focusing on mentorship, scholarship opportunities, committees, and outreach - all of which have remained priorities in today’s DISI program. Learning that many chapters did not have diversity or minority initiatives in place, the Task Force recommended the IREM Foundation’s Minority Outreach Scholarship as a way to support the property management education of professionals from diverse groups. Through the efforts of the Diversity Task Force, the Diversity Advisory Board was created in 2008.

The Diversity Advisory Board’s purpose was to monitor IREM’s efforts to attract and welcome a diverse membership to IREM – with a focus on racial and ethnic diversity – through career advancement, education, and certification, and make recommendations to enhance IREM’s diversity programs. One of these recommendations was to sponsor individuals from under-represented groups and provide complimentary registration for them to attend the annual IREM Global Summit. These efforts became the roots of what is now the DISI program.

In 2008, five individuals were invited to attend the IREM Global Summit by the Diversity Advisory Board. They were also formally recognized at the event in the hope that the experience would inspire them to continue their engagement with local IREM chapters and events, along with strengthening ties with IREM at a national level. In turn, this would inspire others to follow and spread the message of diversity and inclusiveness. In 2016 this recognition was formalized as the Diversity Scholars Program.

At the time, the Diversity Scholars program recognized eight IREM members from underrepresented groups in the real estate management profession who demonstrated leadership skills at the chapter level; an interest in advancing their leadership skills at the national level; and a desire to advance their property management careers. They received complimentary registrations and a $1,000 travel subsidy to attend the IREM Global Summit. In 2019, the Diversity Scholars program was renamed DISI and increased its benefits and number of recipients to ten. Some of these additional benefits are professional mentorship, education courses, networking opportunities and greater visibility within IREM and the real estate management community.

Through continued reevaluation and fostering more intention on how to serve our members better, the DISI program plans to make 2023 its best year yet. In its new iteration, the program will be open to any current IREM member, and employees of AMO firms, with a focus on professionals of marginalized identities who have not already earned CPM certification. CPM certification is one of the most important designations a rising real estate professional can earn, and a cornerstone of IREM’s mission to advance the real estate management profession.

DISI program benefits now include an IREM Foundation Scholarship for 75% of the costs of three CPM certification courses, one year of professional mentorship with an IREM CPM, free registration to the IREM Global Summit with a $1000 travel stipend, and recognition at the event. Finally, DISI Leaders also receive recognition in IREM publications and social media.

Things get better with time, and the DISI program has done just that. With its foundation being built over a decade ago, it has grown and evolved. So far, the program has recognized over 100 IREM members as DISI recipients, and we’re excited to continue building this flourishing program. We take great responsibility to equip rising professionals in the best way possible. Visit our webpage to learn more.

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