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Joseph Ritchie (Tishman Speyer)

Joseph Ritchie (Tishman Speyer)

Joining a growing trend in the real estate industry, Tishman Speyer will soon have an executive whose focus is diversity and inclusion.

Joseph Ritchie, the vice president of development at Brandywine Realty Trust, will start next month as Tishman Speyer’s managing director of business development and head of diversity and inclusion, the company announced.

Rob Speyer, the president and CEO, called cultivating diversity at the firm and in the industry a priority. “Joe will have a pioneering role both internally and externally, making an immediate and enduring impact across all of our portfolio and projects,” he said in a press release.

Ritchie has his work cut out for him. Tishman Speyer’s website features 105 executives. Only two are Black. Among its U.S. executives, from managing director up, 11 percent are people of color, according to the firm.

Ritchie’s hiring comes a year after the killing of George Floyd outraged the nation and prompted industry leaders to promise to hire and help more people of color. JLL, Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE, for example, have all hired diversity officers since last June. The real estate industry has long been criticized for lacking diversity.

Ritchie, in the release, said he and his colleagues aim “to take concrete, measurable action to address the historical inequities and structural impediments that have prevented a more diverse industry.”

“Our goal will be to create wealth and opportunity for businesses and individuals in the communities in which we do business, and by doing so enhance the value of our holdings and return to our investors,” he said.

Ritchie’s real estate experience includes executive roles at Trammell Crow Company, the Burks Companies, and Lomax Real Estate Partners. He was also the founding CEO of the economic development corporation for the city of Newark under Mayor (now Sen.) Cory Booker. He also was a consultant at Deloitte, where he created a program to support minority entrepreneurs in Cape Town, South Africa.

James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, which recently hired Tiffany Johnson as vice president of diversity and inclusion, welcomed Tishman’s announcement, saying that it is important to build a pipeline of diverse talent in the industry.

“We know every organization is starting their journey from a different point,” he said. “So it’s exciting to see more organizations within our industry take concrete steps like these to achieve our diversity goals.”

Real estate leaders’ initiatives for diversity also include financial support for minority-owned companies and civil rights groups. Compass, where Robert Reffkin is one of the few Black CEOs in real estate, has diversified its board, which is now half Black and one-third female. Redfin and Zillow followed suit last year by adding their first black board members.