At Rosano partners, “diversity” isn’t an obligation. It’s an identity—and a business opportunity. The firm was founded in 2006 by an Israeli immigrant, Sagiv Rosano, to sell, lease, and manage commercial real estate in underserved ethnic Los Angeles neighborhoods. Today 76% of its employees are minorities, a rainbow of ethnicities: Latinos, blacks, Persians, Koreans, Chinese, and more. Combined, they speak 13 languages. “We believe that different is stronger,” says chief strategy and operations officer Ian Whitman, who is openly gay.
Whitman devours books and podcasts on culture. He seeks to cultivate a tribe, a safe one where people can be open, understood, and supported. Most real estate firms have commission-only agents duke it out for contracts, but Rosano encourages collaboration by establishing separate territories for agents. “It promotes people to take risks and grow,” Whitman says.
The result is a “warm vibe,” says Bo Kim, an agent at Rosano. Expectations are high, he says, but the firm has mentored and supported him. Rosano gives people a hand up. The company has hired formerly homeless people and paid for a Filipina accounting intern to go to college, then promoted her.
Rosano’s culture is fostered in small ways. A table in the entryway encourages staffers to share meals every day. A companywide breakfast each week also provides everyone, from interns to vice presidents, updates on the company’s financial health and upcoming deals. Instead of keeping transactions close to the vest, staffers join forces, tapping their connections and knowledge, says Kim. That teamwork yielded 37% revenue growth last year.
Rosano has established itself as a firm that represents the diversity of downtown Los Angeles, says Deborah Villar, CEO of ViaCare, a health clinic that serves the poor in East L.A. Villar says two Rosano realtors, who were, respectively, Latino and gay, got to know the clinic and its goals and presented ViaCare’s business plan to a Ukrainian landlord with strong ties to the community. He ultimately put $500,000 in improvements into the building before ViaCare signed the lease. “We’re small, but they took the time to get to know us and treated us like royalty,” says Villar. “They want to be the face of L.A.” In a community with many different types of faces, Rosano fits right in. —Jennifer Alsever
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Construction & Real Estate
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