ICSC Foundation Announces the Launch Academy to Promote Diversity in Retail Real Estate
The program will recruit and prepare racially diverse students for a career in the industry through paid internships, mentorship and training
NEW YORK, May 18, 2021 – As part of a continued effort to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in retail real estate, ICSC and its Foundation recently announced the Launch Academy – a unique new program under its Talent Incubator Project umbrella designed to recruit and prepare racially diverse undergraduate students for a career in the industry. Racially diverse professionals account for less than 2% of leadership in commercial real estate (CRE); ICSC recognizes the critical need for diversity in the sector and has established the Launch Academy to create change at the entry level and mentor the next generation of leaders.
To engage a robust pool of committed students, the program taps into ICSC’s existing university partnerships as well as schools, such as HBCUs, that serve large percentages of diverse students. Providing the tools needed to begin a career in CRE, students receive a paid summer internship from an ICSC member company, a mentor, retail, real estate and professional development training and access to industry leaders. Surpassing expectations, the Launch Academy for its inaugural spring/summer 2021 program has engaged 26 companies and secured 39 internships for students in the program to date.
“As the leading industry organization, ICSC recognizes the prevalence of diversity challenges in our industry,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “We as an industry have to do better, and ICSC is committed to being a part of the solution. As retail real estate continues to evolve, ICSC and our members look forward to welcoming the next generation of young, diverse professionals into the fold to lead us forward.”
DE&I is one of ICSC’s core values; in December 2020, the organization welcomed seven new trustees who identify as women and/or racially diverse. ICSC’s DE&I initiatives are largely member-driven, including its DE&I working group, which informs ICSC’s decisions around programming that can directly impact members and their businesses.
The Talent Incubator Project and Launch Academy also addresses the talent gap that is prevalent in the industry, encouraging more millennials and Gen Z professionals to pursue a career in retail real estate. Currently, millennials are underrepresented by 11% in the industry compared to the general U.S. working population, and just 18% of ICSC’s membership is under the age of 35.
Since ICSC’s university partnerships program launched in 2019, the organization has fostered relationships with 49 schools and driven a 71% increase in student membership, ultimately encouraging more talented young professionals to enter a career in retail real estate. To further build the talent pipeline, the ICSC Foundation has awarded over $1 million in academic scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a career in CRE, including a 43% increase in diversity scholarships.
For more information on the Launch Academy and participating companies, please visit our website at ICSC Launch Academy | ICSC: International Council of Shopping Centers.
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Vice President, Research & Public Relations