Sam Zell Apologizes for Using Vulgarity in Describing Women

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell apologized for using a vulgarity to describe women during a discussion on gender diversity last week.

At the REITweek investor conference in Manhattan last Wednesday, Zell, the 76-year-old chairman of Equity Group Investments Inc., said: “I don’t think there’s ever been a, ‘We gotta get more p---- on the block, OK?’” after saying that he promoted women on merit.

Sam Zell Apologizes for Using Vulgarity in Describing Women

In an email to attendees dated June 11, the conference organizers said Zell had reached out after the event to apologize for the remark and “express his regret” to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, or Nareit, community.

“Mr. Zell’s language was completely unacceptable and is not welcome at Nareit-sponsored events, or in our view, anywhere else,” Nareit Chairman Thomas J. Baltimore Jr. and Chief Executive Officer Steven Wechsler said in the email. “His language does not represent Nareit’s values, nor does it represent the values of the women and men who work in the industry we represent,” they added.

Wechsler confirmed the contents of the email but declined to comment further.

Zell’s comments, and Nareit’s initial response, were criticized by Jennifer Clark, executive vice president and general counsel of asset management firm RMR Group Inc., who on Friday sent a letter on behalf of six trusts she helps oversee.

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