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Inclusion initiative

LaSalle aims to make space at table for everyone

LaSalle Investment Management’s 2017 inclusion conference focused on gender diversity and strategic thinking.

Jason Kern, Americas CEO at LaSalle Investment Management Inc., has helped spearhead efforts at the real estate manager to increase diversity since he joined the firm in 2013.

One project, a growth-by-inclusion initiative, includes a biennial conference for the staff and takes a big swath of the North American team offline for two days, Mr. Kern said.

The last one, held at the end of 2017, was about how female executives think strategically, he said.

"There's a false perception that females do not think strategically," he said.

Included on the 2017 agenda was a client panel moderated by Suzanne Martinez, managing director of LaSalle's global client capital team, who was one of three women Mr. Kern added to the formerly all-male North America board. The asset owners on the panel were Julie Nickoley, director, real estate and real assets at The Boeing Co., and Angela Miller-May, chief investment officer of the $9.8 billion Chicago Public School Teachers' Pension & Retirement Fund.

Ms. Nickoley and Ms. Miller-May discussed how they use strategic thinking in their current roles and how to balance being tactical and strategic, among other topics.

Mr. Kern said the lessons learned during the event were shared by both male and female staff members. To make sure that firm executives do not leave their "aha" moments behind at the conference, Mr. Kern said LaSalle will be holding three to five training events over the next 18 months.

The inclusion initiative has had an impact. Fifty percent of the investment officer promotions at LaSalle were women in 2017, up from 32% in 2015.