Rodolfo Lopes joined Berkadia in 2020 as a Human Resources Project manager, with a deep focus on improving and expanding Berkadia’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) program. In January of this year, Rodolfo took on the role of Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Berkadia, charged with leading initiatives tied to Berkadia’s ambitious DEIB goals internally and across the industry.
We sat down with him to talk about how Berkadia’s mission to expand DEIB has progressed, what the expansion of the program means for Berkadians, and what he finds most exciting about the work that he, together with Berkadians across the country, is doing to move the organization and the industry forward.
Why is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) so important to you? Why is it so important for Berkadia?
Practically speaking, the business case for DEIB is well established. The benefits of having a diverse workforce that feels included and with a sense of belonging are well documented. Research shows that companies with such a workforce see positive impacts to their bottom lines. In striving to achieve ambitious DEIB goals, we put ourselves in an even stronger position to attract, develop and retain top talent, which in turn reinforces our leadership position in the CRE industry.
However, for me, the increased profitability is a by-product of DEIB. In my mind, the biggest impact is at the individual level, where we want to create a culture where employees bring their best self to work; where all Berkadians are comfortable sharing their stories, their experiences and their best selves, and feel supported by colleagues and leadership, while knowing that their career progression is dependent solely upon their skills and their ability to do their job.
This is a new role at Berkadia, so you are really carving a new path. What are your goals in this role? What are Berkadia’s goals for the organization and the industry?
I want to give Berkadians and candidates applying to become Berkadians a platform to be seen and heard, and to grow their careers at Berkadia.
Berkadia and Berkadians have been doing a great job at staying truthful to our values (i.e., People Matter) and following the Berkadia Way philosophy that encourages us all to see people as people and have courageous conversations to understand each other’s unique needs, objectives and challenges. But there is always more that we can do to have an organization that is reflective of the clients and communities that we serve, that strives to ensure all Berkadians feel that they belong and can have meaningful and rewarding careers, both at Berkadia and in the CRE industry as a whole.
What do you find most rewarding in the work you do? What do you find most challenging?
As a first-generation immigrant who is in a multi-cultural and multi-faith marriage, DEIB is very close to my heart! I wouldn’t presume to know exactly what women, people of color, LatinX, LGBTQ+, veterans and people with disabilities, amongst others, have endured throughout history, but I can empathize with some of their experiences since leaving my country and becoming an immigrant. So, for me, DEIB is more than a business imperative, it is a personal journey!
What I love the most about what I do is the ability to work across all dimensions of Berkadia, from our Management Committee, to our regional offices, to our partners in Hyderabad, India. I think this puts me in a privileged position that enables me to get to know our people’s stories and their needs, objectives and challenges.
There are certainly challenges in the work that we’re doing in DEIB. The first is to ensure that everyone understands why DEIB is so important to Berkadia’s future and that we are committed to this journey not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in Berkadia’s best business interest. The second challenge is that we need to hit the right pace of change. We have ambitious goals that we’re working hard to achieve, but we recognize that the type of transformational change that we’re looking to execute takes thought and time, and is far from being a simple endeavor. DEIB is a journey, not a destination. And it is a journey where we want all Berkadians to be in the driver’s seat!
-Rodolfo Lopes, Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging