In 2021, Regency Centers launched its first two Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as part of its ongoing commitment to improving and expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. These voluntary, employee-led groups were formed by individuals who share an interest in a common diversity dimension, and include company-wide advocates and allies.
Created to promote member engagement and development, support the attraction and retention of a diverse workforce, and play an active role in community outreach and relations, ERGs will support Regency’s DEI strategic plan with a focus on Talent, Culture, Marketplace, and Communities.
The EDGE (Ethnic Diversity Group for Everyone) ERG is fostering an environment that attracts, engages, and promotes a diverse employee base across Regency Centers at-large.
To learn more about EDGE, we interviewed four of its leaders below, including:
- (BA) Barry Argalas - Sr. Vice President, National Transactions & Investment Strategy
- (GF) Gary Fields - Vice President, Property Operations
- (JM) Joanne Mondares - Vice President, SEC and JV Reporting
- (JG) Jason Gibson - Vice President, Legal – Southeast Transactions
Can you tell us about the EDGE mission and goals?
(GF): It’s no secret that the commercial real estate industry itself isn’t very diverse. This is an area of opportunity for us to set a foundation that kick starts more DEI efforts. Attracting, engaging, and retaining diverse talent is so important. While Regency already has some gender diversity, there is very little ethnic diversity. EDGE provides a fantastic opportunity for growth in that area.
(JG): EDGE’s mission is to further the DEI initiatives of Regency by helping to establish a culture that recognizes, supports and promotes employees of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Our current goals to achieve this mission include improving retention and promotion of existing employees, as well as attracting future employees, with diverse ethnic backgrounds. These goals include the creation of professional development opportunities, celebrating individuals of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and ensuring the equitable treatment of all employees.
Can you speak to the meaning behind the name EDGE?
(GF): As a group, we put together surveys and a diversity word cloud that included words like inclusivity, equality, etc. Within that word cloud, we received a lot of submissions that really resonated with folks, and a member of the group came up with EDGE: Ethnic Diversity Group for Everyone. With any initiative we roll out, we need allies and support from everyone, hence the “e” at the end.
Why is EDGE important to Regency Centers and its leadership?
(GF): Diversity of thought, diversity of people, and diversity of ideas are all incredibly valuable. Research shows that diversity within organizations presents a much more positive and successful outcome, versus the ‘groupthink’ mentality. We miss out on a lot of innovation by doing the same things and thinking the same things as everyone around us. Being thoughtful and trying new things with new viewpoints and lenses helps create new outcomes.
(JG): EDGE is important to Regency and its leadership because it serves as a vehicle for our overall corporate DEI initiatives. EDGE allows employees to become actively involved in shaping the corporate culture and driving positive change for the benefit of everyone. EDGE and its engaged members can also help ensure accountability for the DEI goals set by Regency and its leadership.
Can you speak to the structure of this group, and what meetings look like?
(GF): Each of our meetings follow a typical cadence: call to order, ground rules, new business, reflecting on our business plan, member feedback, etc. We might discuss current social issues or a book that we read as a group, etc.
(JM): We have also consistently been incorporating a Member Spotlight throughout our meetings, allowing 2-3 people to share their stories, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. It helps us all feel more connected before diving into deeper conversations.
Why did you personally choose to get involved in this group, and at the leadership level?
(JM): I’m passionate about helping ensure that everyone can see and experience all of the same opportunities for growth — regardless of background. My hope is that this initiative will also contribute to Regency’s talent pipeline. Anything that I can do to help others see and achieve opportunities that can be available to them, is important to me.
(GF): Paying it forward is so important to me, and while I think this group will produce great business results, I am also very invested in this on a personal level. I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities and mentorship throughout my career, and even though I rarely looked like those around me, people still took a chance on me. I know not everyone is blessed with my circumstances. I have two young sons who are often in similar situations, and I want to help make sure the same opportunities are provided for them. If this group helps open additional doors for others like me, I’m more than willing to be a part of it.
(BA): I want to challenge other people as well as myself; I'm equally here to learn and facilitate. I don’t want to be complacent, and this group will challenge that. It’s really cool that through this group, we’re able to help push to make change within Regency, which will in turn make things a little easier for people who come after us.
(JG): I personally became involved in EDGE because DEI is a passion of mine. I was raised by a family that instilled in me the value of service. So, I have volunteered with many community organizations that strive for equity for all individuals. I consider EDGE to be in alignment with that philosophy. While I have the ability and time, I want to be of service for causes that resonate with me. Also, as someone with an intersectional identity, I am often the only person like me in the room; and I think representation matters. EDGE creates a community for Regency colleagues who identify similarly to me, as well as supportive allies. I believe it makes a difference. I see my role as a leader within EDGE as simply facilitating the mission and goals of the ERG. I have had the opportunity to participate in ERGs previously, so that experience has helped during the early stages of the development of EDGE. Of course, I also have some ideas that I would like to champion; but the ERG is designed to have rotating leadership. Ultimately, anyone that wants to contribute has the opportunity to do so.
What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about joining EDGE?
(JG): I would say: “Get off the fence!” Seriously, though, EDGE is still developing, so I recommend that everyone attends one meeting and then speaks with someone who is already a member. At its core, EDGE is about community and supporting one another. You can get involved at any level, whether by attending a meeting each month, or getting more involved with one of the committees. You can create the experience that you want, if you have any interest at all.
(JM): Fill out the form on our internal Reggie ERG page, and you’ll receive an invitation to the next meeting. We want diverse, well-rounded thoughts in our conversations. There is no one side to any issue.
(BA): As someone who’s been around the company for a while, I can tell you that there is legitimacy to this space, and we are committed to it. We aren’t just checking a box with this group. We have people who have stepped up to take a leadership role to make this an impactful, meaningful, deep experience for people. It’s real. Come plug in!
(GF): This isn’t the flavor of the day. There is work to be done, yes, but come sit through one meeting, or half a meeting, and see what the group’s about. Feel free to also reach out offline with questions. We truly welcome any and all.
For ERG-related questions, or to learn more about Regency’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, contact HumanResources@regencycenters.com. Learn more about our other ERG, Women's Initiative Network, here.