Xenia Hotels CFO Discusses LGBTQ+ Equality in Commercial Real Estate

Atish Shah
Image via Bisnow, Courtesy of Atish Shah.

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Earlier this month, Bisnow ran an article on LGBTQ+ individuals in the commercial real estate business. Reporter Cameron Sperance interviewed several such individuals, including Atish Shah of Orlando.

Shah is the Chief Financial Officer for Xenia Hotels, and has worked in CRE, finance, and hospitality.

According to Shah, the hospitality industry promotes LGBTQ+ inclusivity more than many other businesses due to its focus on helping people.

However, he does not seem to have the same opinion of CRE. “Commercial real estate is not necessarily about taking care of people and more about taking care of buildings,” he said.

Shah says it can be difficult to access mentorship and establish close relationships in CRE. “It can be tough for LGBT people to be deemed to ‘fit’ given that our priorities, approach, families, interests and goals can vary significantly from others with whom we work.”

He added, “I’m a person of color and gay, so my experience is a bit different. Sometimes I think you can feel alone in this environment, as you’re a little rarer in both the LGBT and person of color world.”

His advice to LGBTQ+ people in CRE is to pursue challenges and be persistent. “When I have hit the glass ceiling, I have had to be agile and pivot. That has meant finding a different manager, a different role or a different employer…. My goal, to be a CEO, hasn’t changed. I do hope that those who follow me will have a smoother path.”

Read the full Bisnow article here.

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