Lument Sees Diversity as a Cornerstone of Its Success

In 2020, having integrated its three constituent companies and launched its new brand, Lument was very clear about how it wanted to differentiate itself in the marketplace. “We are a company built on respect and relationships, that connects the very best people with our clients to solve their challenges,” said James Flynn, Lument’s CEO. “Recruiting and nurturing talent wherever it can be found is the key to delivering on that commitment.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is the cornerstone of that effort. Commercial real estate has long been the almost exclusive domain of white males — and Lument recognizes that its long-term success depends on its ability to break that pattern. The tragic events of the summer of 2020 only added urgency to its resolution.

Last April, Lument began its preparations for a broad-based DE&I initiative. It asked Edward Greene, a managing director of affordable housing finance, to lead the initiative as head of its DE&I Council. Precilla Torres, senior managing director and head of Lument’s Real Estate Investment Strategies Group, agreed to serve as executive sponsor.

Getting the People Part Right

Greene was an excellent choice. At his last position at Freddie Mac, Greene managed the affordable housing credit group and made it the agency’s most diverse group in its multifamily platform. He leveraged this diversity to drive exceptional business results, and his team introduced innovations that were adopted by his counterparts across the agency. For these efforts, he received Freddie Mac’s CEO Award.

Greene also served on Freddie Mac’s Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council and chaired its employee resource group (ERG) for people impacted by disabilities. He himself has a special needs child. For his work with the ERG, he received the agency’s Chief Diversity Officer Champion Award, given to the employee who best advances the organization’s DE&I strategy. “Over the last few decades, we’ve seen corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion wax and wane,” Greene says. “Before I agreed to step in, I made sure that top management at Lument was behind the initiative. They are, 100 percent!”

Equally important for a successful program, Greene notes, is employee buy-in. There must be a critical mass of employees who really subscribe to the DE&I vision. “The employees at Lument want to be great corporate citizens,” Greene says. “They are smart, energetic and they understand how DE&I can drive business results.” To date, more than 30 Lument employees have volunteered to join the DE&I Council and its task forces.

Moving Forward Across the Board

Greene and his colleagues have been busy creating the infrastructure for a successful DE&I initiative, coordinating with colleagues from ORIX Corporation USA, Lument’s parent company. After consulting with Lument employees and canvassing Lument department heads to identify their DE&I objectives, the council has been formulating a Lument DE&I Roadmap that aligns with the five strategic pillars of ORIX Corporation USA’s DE&I Roadmap and created task forces in each area. Those are:

  • Talent planning and acquisition
  • Talent development and leadership
  • Supplier diversity
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Workplace culture

Getting the right infrastructure in place is critical to the long-term success of the program, but Lument is also focusing on near-term efforts that produce immediate results. This year, it set a goal of 60 percent diverse hires for its next Associate Development Program class, and to-date three candidates have accepted its offer. It has also been exploring the availability of shared DE&I resources — such as training sessions developed by Fannie Mae and the Mortgage Bankers Association. “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in places where we can leverage these resources,” Greene says.

But Lument is not content to have just another DE&I program and simply check off all the right DE&I boxes. As Flynn says, “Our goal at Lument is nothing short of becoming a model for how DE&I initiatives, done well, can transform a company.”