**This article orginially appeared in Delta Associates’ Mid-Atlantic Class A Apartment Market Report.

The FIFA World Cup is once again upon us.  This eagerly awaited tournament has been held nineteen times since 1930.Over a four week period, 32 teams from countries spanning the globe compete for the coveted title of World Champions.For many of these nations, soccer – or football as it is internationally recognized – is equal parts religion and sport.The stakes are high – as evidenced by the tension on the faces of the players, the coaches, the crazy outfits, colorful face painting and wild decoration of the ever-loyal fans.

With the exception of the Olympics, the World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world.  The cumulative viewership of the 2006 World Cup was estimated to exceed 26 billion viewers with more than 715 million people watching the final match. That represents one out of every nine people on the planet.

So why do we care?  And what does this have to do with the apartment industry?   Just about everything. So we’d better start paying attention.  Our business depends on it.   Take a look at who is living in our collective buildings today.  The Washington region is highly international. People move in and out of our area from all over the country and all over the world.   At Bozzuto, we have associates on our teams from over fifty nations and our properties are no different.  We are witnessing a cultural movement and we view that as great news.

According to the Harvard Business School, multicultural networks promote creativity.   Diversity and inclusion fosters innovation and new perspectives encourage fresh insight into old ways of thinking and doing business. The fabric of our communities is enriched by this creativity.  It is a business imperative to become more aware and to adapt to what is a quickly a changing environment.

Being sensitive to the unique differences and embracing the resulting opportunities is part and parcel of living in a changing world. As that round (or flat) world becomes smaller, social media is one of the powerful vehicles that connects us all, in one click, regardless of time and distance.

Our associates and residents are very proud of their traditions, their heritage, and their homelands.  Our ability to recognize and celebrate the diversity that resides under our collective roofs is critical to creating the sense of community that makes all of our residents feel welcome and most importantly, feel at home.

We have a lot of soccer fans at Bozzuto. We also have a lot of soccer fans in our communities.  And they are cheering for their home teams!  Or their beloved teams. The televisions are all tuned to ESPN for the next month and pop-up parties, pot lucks and nail-biting gatherings are serving as forums to foster new friendships and a sense of unity in our buildings and our management teams.  And we believe that value is created in these connections.

Recognizing the World Cup as a pivotal opportunity to become more culturally aware will pay dividends. Hosting events for residents and employees to socialize and view the games provides a window into the community that we are serving today.  Yet learning about other cultures through sport is just one step toward becoming a more sensitive employer.

Being a responsible global citizen is a prerequisite to understanding what we need to learn about the changing face of our properties and our companies. And it is essential to growth, both personally and professionally.  The many cultures that are woven into the fabric of our communities create a rich tapestry of fresh, new ideas.  This knowledge will serve to enrich our own lives and those of the lives that we serve.