Mohr Partners Doubles Down on Diversity, Taps Robinson to Lead Effort
June 30th, 2020 | News
By Tony Wilbert
CoStar News June 30, 2020 | 10:22 AM
Mohr Partners, one of the largest minority-owned commercial real estate services firms in the country, is ramping up its efforts to further diversify its workforce.
The Dallas-based company that specializes in representing corporate tenants has created a new role of head of diversity and inclusion and tapped Clyde Robinson for the position.
In his expanded role with the firm, Robinson, who also leads Mohr’s Charlotte, North Carolina, office, will work to further the firm’s commitment to being one of the industry’s most-diverse firms.
“The commercial real estate industry’s got a long way to go,” Robinson said in an interview. “There are definitely few minorities in the industry. Now we’re starting to see more inclusion in commercial real estate.”
Robinson said he is ready to lead Mohr Partners’ efforts to increase diversity in commercial real estate, especially “with everything going on with the social justice issues.”
Mohr Partners’ move comes as commercial real estate firms work to figure out how to diversify their male- and white-dominated workforces as calls increase across the country for equal justice and opportunity.
Last week, CBRE, the world’s largest commercial property services firm, promoted Tim Dismond to the newly created of chief diversity officer as the company works to hire, promote and retain more minorities and women.
At Mohr Partners, Robinson will report directly to Chairman and CEO Robert “Bob” Shibuya.
“To Clyde’s credit, ever since he joined us nearly two years ago, he has done a tremendous job in helping drive our diversity effort,” Shibuya said in an interview. “He’s really helped us attract diverse individuals at all levels.”
Partly as a result of Robinson’s work, 25% of Mohr Partners’ leadership positions are filled by African Americans or people of Hispanic or Asian descent. “Under Clyde’s leadership, we are targeting to ultimately have people of color and women represent the majority of our leadership roles,” Shibuya said.
Shibuya said based on its annual revenue “in the tens of millions,” Mohr Partners is the largest minority-owned commercial real estate firm in the country and beyond.
In 2017, Shibuya said Mohr Partners became the first global commercial real estate services firm to be certifiedas a minority business enterprise by the National Minority Supplier Development Council. Mohr Partners submitted for the designation after Shibuya led a management buyout of the firm from founder Robert “Bob” Mohr, who now is chairman emeritus. The buyout positioned Shibuya as the firm’s majority shareholder.
Mohr Partners’ certification as a minority business enterprise has helped the firm develop business with Fortune 500 companies that have made a commitment to partner with diverse suppliers, Shibuya said.
Before the social unrest sparked by the May death of George Floyd, Shibuya said about 10% of its assignments were connected to its position as a certified minority-owned firm. “Now, at least one-third of it has some connection,” he said.
Given the current social unrest, “that commitment from corporations has really increase substantially” to hire diverse suppliers, Shibuya said.
The challenge, Shibuya said, is most minority-owned brokerage and services firms aren’t national in scope and might struggle to complete assignments from large corporations. “They are very good firms run by very good people, but they tend to be boutique and in local markets,” he said.
That’s where Mohr Partners’ size and national presence gives it an advantage, Shibuya said.
“Clients are actively calling us and asking how to do business with us,” Shibuya said. “The response has been overwhelming.”
A native of Binghamton, New York, and a lacrosse player, Robinson got into the commercial real estate industry as an intern at Percival McGuire Commercial Real Estate while at Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte. He then joined RJS Properties, where he worked on build-to-suit office projects, lease analyses and market research.
Robinson then took a job at Commercial Carolina, an affiliate of Cushman & Wakefield. He joined Mohr Partners as managing partner of its Charlotte office in late 2018.
“Mohr Partners’ commitment to diversity is a refreshing change for me having grown up in a traditional commercial real estate industry culture where minorities have historically found it difficult to ascend to senior leadership roles,” Robinson said.
As Shibuya and Robinson work to make Mohr Partners even more diverse, they’ll focus on recruiting people at all levels.
“Normally, diversity is in the back office,” Shibuya said. “We’re trying to take diversity to the front office.”