Yardi Canada

By on Jun 27, 2017 in People


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a 2016 pride celebration.

Yardi recently sponsored and participated in an event hosted by the Empire Club of Canada. The panel talk, titled “The Evolution of the Real Estate Industry — Diversity, Culture and the Workplace,” focused on the commercial market. Established in 1903, the Empire Club of Canada is an influential forum for leaders in various industries and cultural organizations.

Every generation, but especially Baby Boomers and millennials, has a major impact on various sectors of real estate. The Empire Club panel broadened the discussion to include gender and racial diversity. The hope was to motivate industry leaders to increase the presence and influence of women and minorities in the Canadian real estate industry.

The panel included Scott Addison, President, Brokerage Services Canada, Colliers International; Toni Rossi, President, Real Estate Division, Infrastructure Ontario; and Michael Brooks, CEO, Real Property Association of Canada. Serving as moderator was Sheila Botting, National Real Estate Leader in Canada and a partner at Deloitte.

Driving Change

Botting compared a thriving work culture to an ecosystem. No ecosystem can be homogeneous — diversity is crucial for ongoing growth and survival. “Diversity drives productivity, profitability and better outcomes for everyone involved,” Botting said.

Addison commented that the first thing that needs to happen to drive change is awareness. He has personally observed a lack of gender diversity in the brokerage arena. To address this issue,  Colliers set up campus recruiting and other hiring programs led by women to help balance the gender gap.

Rossi, representing Infrastructure Ontario, said the organization is fortunate to have a 50/50 gender balance in its leadership.  That has been established thanks to direction by the federal government, especially during the Trudeau administration. Rossi outlined three key things she believes can prompt change:

  • Leadership: set a target (not a quota) for more female leadership. Quotas can result in blind hiring to fulfill that requirement, but a target focuses on an impactful goal.
  • Data: collect it, analyze it and report it. Quantifiable numbers provide full visibility into actual problem areas and that insight can be used to solve problems.
  • Environment: Having a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming is important. Implement employee support programs that provide all parties a voice and allow any issues to be identified and addressed effectively.

Looking to the Future

The panel also took on the topic of change management as the next generation becomes established in the workplace.

Rossi emphasized that every business leader needs to be open about the gap in diversity and should address it with transparency. On a positive note, there are many organizations that are working toward elevating gender and culture diversity in the Canadian commercial real estate industry.

Addison touched on the need to create a safe environment where people feel comfortable voicing their concerns. He also emphasized the importance of articulating the corporate vision and being transparent about goals.

Companies must educate their teams.  At Colliers, a public speaking training course called “Taking the Stage” has benefited many women. Infrastructure Ontario also offered public speaking initiatives which employees from diverse backgrounds leveraged to be heard.

Before adjourning, Peter Altobelli, Vice President and General Manager of Sales for Yardi Canada, thanked the panelists for sharing their insights, experiences and strategies to promote positive change.

He commented that the value of diversity and role it plays in success resonates with Yardi, a company with a global team. Corporate cultures in every sector of the real estate industry are starting to understand the value of diversity.