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Last spring was a raw and painful period for CBRE’s Leron Mitchell. It also put him on a path to become an influential change maker at CBRE.
Mitchell’s parents had immigrated from Jamaica to Toronto, where Leron was born and raised. After battling breast cancer for 30 years, his mother succumbed to the disease in April 2020.
“Her friends and family couldn’t be around her in her final days because of COVID,” says Mitchell. “So emotionally it was a difficult situation to experience.”
Then the video of George Floyd’s killing surfaced, and Mitchell, like much of the world, was outraged. He reached a breaking point. “Seeing a Black man being killed like that, it affects you.”
Mitchell’s mother had raised him to treat all people with kindness and respect, but that’s not the reality for so many people of colour and other minority groups.
“I felt compelled to take action based on what I was taught as a kid and my visceral response to the injustices we were seeing,” he says. “I don’t consider myself an activist per se, but the combination of my mother’s death and seeing a Black man being killed like that, it lit a fire inside of me to get involved.”
Mitchell, an Industrial Properties & Infill Land broker in the Toronto West office, was elected the Chair of CBRE’s inaugural Diversity Council. The group of 11 advocates for change will delve into a range of topics, including hiring, education, mentorship, sponsorship, vendor engagement, employee resource groups and data collection.
The Council, with Tara Finnegan as Vice-Chair and Adrian Lee as Secretary, will have access to company leaders and information but will operate at arm’s length in order to provide impartial insights and help drive necessary change.
“We want to help bring positive change to the company and accelerate the diversity, equity and inclusion agenda,” Mitchell explains. “It’s obviously a sensitive topic and change can be uncomfortable. But we’re at a point now where things need to change and CBRE can be a leader in DEI like it is in so many other areas.”
CBRE’s inaugural Diversity Council
, a group of 11 advocates for change, will delve into a range of topics, including hiring, education, mentorship, sponsorship, vendor engagement, employee resource groups and data collection.
The group will analyze three areas – talent, retention and culture – with the goal of making recommendations to the business that facilitate structural change, so that CBRE can become a more inclusive environment that values and supports underrepresented groups and creates a safe and equal opportunity workplace for all employees.
“We need everyone involved to make change, not just Diversity Council members,” says Mitchell. “We have the support of the company and we are reaching out to industry partners and I have faith we’ll get there.”
Mitchell is a reminder that we can all channel difficulties to make positive change. The world will certainly benefit from more of us taking on a similar mindset and moving to action.