HIRE360 is a first-of-its-kind platform with a bold mission to transform the real estate and hospitality industries from the ground up, aiming to strengthen and nurture the Chicago community now and for years to come. As underrepresented groups have historically faced higher barriers when it comes to employment and mentorship in the real estate and hospitality industries, HIRE360 aims to increase participation of minorities and women while also providing them long-term opportunities for success. The four pillars that make up the program reflect this vision to increase diversity and equity in the industry: the first pillar involves recruiting and supporting individuals interested in careers in real estate and hospitality by providing apprenticeships, access to financial assistance and job opportunity exposure; the second pillar entails working with minority- and women-owned businesses to ensure that they can bid on major development projects, access working capital loans and receive critical business support like accounting services; the third pillar focuses on youth outreach within underrepresented communities by organizing job fairs and school presentations about careers in real estate; and the fourth pillar centers on diversifying the supply chain through encouraging responsible hiring and accountability, as more than 40% of project budgets are spent on supply chain costs, and therefore represent a meaningful opportunity for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).
The founders of HIRE360—including Related Midwest Executive Vice President Don Biernacki—understand that in order to empower the community and sustain long-term change, many voices must be involved in the process. By bringing together over 40 partners consisting of developers, general contractors, trade unions, non-profits and government agencies, HIRE360 combines real estate and hospitality expertise with deep knowledge of the local community to create long-lasting solutions to problems that these industries have faced for decades. For example, two of the biggest issues that minority- and women-led real estate businesses experience are a lack of visibility and access to capital. After the program launched in late 2019, M/WBEs received $3.5 million in funding and an additional 25 businesses secured Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as a result of their participation in the program. While HIRE360 launched in Chicago, the Related Midwest team is currently working on expanding the framework so that it can be applied to real estate and hospitality industries in cities around the country and contribute to lasting positive social impact.