In the wake of a national reckoning with race, a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for people of various backgrounds has come into focus for business owners and employees alike.
Following the success of the #ShareTheMicNow campaign on Instagram, Scott Meyers and the leadership team at Self-Storage Investing were inspired to create the #PlatformForChange series, discussing an array of topics related to diversity in self-storage.
With the goal of understanding the lens of the black community and their common experiences, Scott sat down with Alex Braun II to discuss his experiences as a black business owner in the predominantly white space of the self-storage industry.
“Fly in the Buttermilk”
Alex is first off a family man, the Founder of Braun Financial, the owner/operator of UNITS Portable Storage San Francisco Bay Area, the Director of Operations for the Hawaii & San Francisco Development Company, and last but certainly not least, a new mentor/coach with the Self-Storage Investing team.
While Alex has been a successful investor for some time now, his journey did not come without struggles. There were many instances where he had to overcome prejudice on the job – most notably, being the target of hate speech and slurs from customers and even his own employees.
Alex is one among very few self-storage investors of color. Eighteen years ago, his Southern grandma saw him manage his first storage facility and remarked that he was a “fly in the buttermilk.” However, in Episode 15 of the #PlatformforChange podcast series, he spoke about the positive evolution he has witnessed in terms of diversity in self-storage.
Impact of Self-Storage Passive Investing on Communities of Color
Self-storage has gotten more diverse over the years. The industry has proven beneficial to the black community, as seeing black-owned storage units has helped expose other black businesspeople to different markets than those they previously frequented.
Bringing an industry like self-storage to the black community could help generate diversity in passive investing, which means more wealth-building for marginalized people.
The more investors of color who enter self-storage, the better off the industry environment and the environment of the communities where the investors come from will be. Iron sharpens iron. A person of color might bring their culture with them into the workplace, forcing team members to re-evaluate their ethics of inclusion and learn the value and power of a diverse organization.
Business Outcomes of Diversity and Inclusion
One of the most positive business outcomes of a diverse and inclusive team is the quality of talent the company will attract. Retaining talent and customers is also a given, especially when considering the broadening appeal of the company to different demographics.
The real estate industry is just now on the brink of unlocking the potential and proven track record of diversity and inclusion.
The great thing about this moment in history is that people from all walks of life are more open to considering the experiences of diverse groups. To paraphrase Alex, systemic racism is not new. What is new is the awareness of it and the willingness of the public to be united in finding solutions.
We at Self-Storage Investing commit to the search for solutions that lead to tangible changes that will help and serve the most vulnerable among us.
No matter who you are and where you come from, self-storage is an industry that thrives on a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. For more information on how you can start investing in self-storage today, check out our comprehensive guide!