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Perspectives Blog

Future Housing Leaders Addresses Industry’s Diversity Needs

July 24, 2019

Marcus Cole The housing industry is ripe with opportunities for recent graduates: Last year alone, there were 166,869 entry-level openings in housing.1 And the future pool of potential applicants for entry-level jobs is the most racially and ethnically diverse age cohort ever. Pew Research Center reports that only 52 percent of the post-Millennial generation identify as non-Hispanic white. Yet, less than 27 percent of the housing industry workforce is a racial or ethnic minority.

Future Housing Leaders aims to address this diversity challenge by connecting college students from diverse backgrounds to paid internship and entry-level jobs with top employers who are committed to diversity and inclusion in sectors like housing finance, real-estate development, FinTech, and building and construction.

Diversity Challenge in the Housing Industry

Source: Polygon Research 2019: Polygon Research analysis based on American Community Survey 5-year PUMS data (2013-2017) and EMSI data (March, 2018 - March, 2019)

Through an initial partnership with National Urban League, and with the help of our current partners, Management Leadership for Tomorrow and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Future Housing Leaders continues to increase awareness of career opportunities in housing across disciplines and at institutions with large minority populations. This year, we're strengthening our pull within the industry by partnering with the Mortgage Bankers Association, which expands our portfolio of training and tools for students and connects us with more employers that we can support in diversity and inclusion efforts.

This summer, our employer partners have welcomed 95 Future Housing Leaders interns – a 120 percent increase from our 2018 class. One-third of interns who responded to a program survey identified themselves as a member of a minority group, a significant increase from the current makeup of the housing industry. These students pursue a broad range of academic interests, including political science, building and construction, public policy, and finance. The ethnic, gender, and academic diversity represented in this year’s cohort demonstrates the program’s ability to expand the applicant pipeline and make the many career paths in housing available to a more diverse group of applicants.

Throughout the summer, the Future Housing Leaders program will support interns and build upon their on-the-job experience with:

  • Access to thought leaders and executives in housing through events and webinars.
  • Personalized support through the internship application process.
  • A network of peers interning at other top housing companies across the country.
  • Free training and resources to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to succeed.

The impact of our program doesn’t just end when the internship does. For Future Housing Leaders program participants like Cal Vi – a 2018 Future Housing Leader who interned with Arbor Realty Trust – a summer internship turned into a full-time job. Cal credits the Future Housing Leaders program with providing the network and resources he needed to succeed in housing, an industry he says he “would not otherwise have access to.”

It’s success stories like these that encourage our team to continue to expand our efforts, recruiting more students from universities across the country and connecting employers with a pipeline of applicants with diverse backgrounds who want to explore careers in housing.

Learn more about Future Housing Leaders on our recently launched website and read about the interns’ experiences and our employer partners’ perspectives on our new blog.

Marcus Cole

Director, Future Housing Leaders Program

July 24, 2019


1 Polygon Research 2019: Polygon Research analysis based on American Community Survey 5-year PUMS data (2013-2017) and EMSI data (March, 2018 - March, 2019)