Reit Magazine - January/February 2021 - 61

Homebuilding, for example, has
been off the charts. But other
companies have had to worry
about how their retail tenants
are doing, and who's paying
rent and who isn't. Boards have
been having conversations that
we've never had before about
significant delinquencies and
other issues. It's been critical to,
even through Zoom, stay more
engaged with the management
team so they know we are there
to support them.
On a couple of my boards,
although the CEOs never
asked us to, we cut our pay.
Conversations with leadership
teams about reductions in pay,
both at the board level and the
company level, are always interesting because those are hard
conversations. But sometimes
you have to look yourself in the
mirror and say, " Am I doing the
right thing? " One of the highest
compliments the BRE management team ever received was
when one of our board members said, " I know that you guys
will always do the right thing,
even when no one's looking. "
What key board
responsibilities have
become more challenging
amid the pandemic?
All of my board meetings in
2020 were virtual, but having
a collegial board is a really
important thing. What boards
most missed in 2020 was interfacing with the next level down
of management, who we would
always interact with at board
dinners and onsite visits. Part of
a board's job is looking at talent
development and succession
planning.
Onboarding new members
in this environment will also

Q

be very tough. Everything is
virtual, and new members don't
have the opportunity to meet
each other in person. We have
not had to do that yet on any of
my boards, but I think boards
have to be very purposeful
about that.
How did 2020 impact
the broader conversation about onboarding?
After the expanded conversation about equity in America
and the Black Lives Matter
movement of 2020, I can't
imagine a board today not
having the conversation about
how to become more diverse.
But a board has to ask itself how
quickly will it be able to make
the necessary changes.
Every board member in
the general REIT world is
costing the company somewhere between $200,000 and
$300,000. I always look at board
cost as a percentage of revenues
and then I compare that across
companies. Boards need to
examine their current composition and set specific diversity
goals, so that over the next
several years they can achieve
their goal. It's critical today to
be strategic and very purposeful
about board composition.

Q

Why is it so important
today to critically
examine diversity in board
composition?
When you're on a board, you
are there to understand the
company, understand and help
shape the culture, and work
with the CEO on his or her
plans for the company. But we
do need to consider the composition of our boards today.
Where are there gaping holes?

Q

Whether it's skills, diversity,
age, or industry, how do we fill
those gaping holes? How do we
broaden our search to identify
new directors?
It's important for the boards
to lead on this because it really
makes a statement for the whole
organization that the board is
taking this seriously and the
board expects the CEO to take it
seriously.
How do you expect
board diversity to
improve going forward?
It's a really good time for
recruiting firms to hone in on
their board advisory services
and determine how they can
help shape the boards of the
future. In corporate America,
members of boards tend to
associate with other members
of boards, and ultimately recruit
new members who are similar
to themselves. Today, we are
much more self-aware of asking
how we can expand our reach.
At some point in the future,
recruiting firms might find their
role in the board search process
changing because diversity at
the board level will be a part
of who we are. When the Baby
Boomers are retired, you're
going to have Gen Xers and
up-and-coming millennials taking over leadership. They went
to school not thinking about
diversity in silos, but rather as
just their friends.

Q

What's the best piece
of advice you would
give someone brand-new to
REIT board membership?
As a board member, sometimes you'll sit in a meeting
and think, " I don't believe I'd
have said that if I was the CEO. "

Q

AFTER THE EXPANDED
CONVERSATION ABOUT
EQUITY IN AMERICA
AND THE BLACK LIVES
MATTER MOVEMENT OF
2020, I CAN'T IMAGINE
A BOARD TODAY NOT
HAVING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW
TO BECOME MORE
DIVERSE. BUT A BOARD
HAS TO ASK ITSELF
HOW QUICKLY WILL IT
BE ABLE TO MAKE THE
NECESSARY CHANGES.
- Connie Moore

But you are not management,
and every new board member
eventually finds their own way
to ask questions contribute to
the management team. Ask
yourself what your true north is.
Are you leading with integrity
and authenticity? If you are,
then you'll be a powerful board
member and contribute to a
highly functioning board.
Nareit: Real estate working for you |

61



Reit Magazine - January/February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Reit Magazine - January/February 2021

Contents
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Reit Magazine - January/February 2021 - Contents
Reit Magazine - January/February 2021 - 1
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