I am a co-founder and the only female partner of a nationwide multifamily construction corporation. This means that as a woman, I’m a minority in two mainly male-dominated industries — one, construction and two, commercial real estate. Based on my experience and collected data, I’ve come up with five tips for women in commercial real estate. First, we will go over a few data findings. Second, the high-level changes in the industry. Last, the five tips.
I want to begin by pointing out that our first hire was a woman. She is out in the field as Project Manager, overseeing projects in California and Utah. The New York Times reports that “only 2.6 percent of construction workers are female.” Although we are continuing our efforts to have an equally gendered team, statistics don’t lie. The gender ratio found in commercial real estate isn’t much better. As explained by Multifamily Executive in May 2018, “women and minorities in leadership roles at multifamily and commercial real estate companies remain stubbornly low—well below 20% for women.” A sad fact, and now recognized the challenge.
This leads to my second point. Some high-level movements are facing this gender challenge head-on. NMHC, for instance, has a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative that is dedicated to promoting diversity within the multifamily housing industry. Several organizations and programs such as Girls Who Invest, Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders, and CREW, are on board and aggressively working towards promoting diversity within the industry.
According to Commercial Property Executive, Kevin Maggiacomo, President & CEO of SVN International Corp. launched “…50/50 by 2020—a grassroots, web-based movement that grew out of a TEDx talk—and calls for gender-balanced leadership in all organizations worldwide by the year 2020.” Things are happening.
The list continues. As stated in Commercial Property Executive, “CBRE Group Inc., was the only commercial real estate company to be named to Forbes’ 2018 America’s Best Employers for Diversity list, achieving a No. 45 ranking out of 250 organizations…guided by three key principles: growth, connection, and mentorship”, a fantastic accomplishment.
Deserving women should receive jobs or promotions and then immediately be equal to their male counterparts. But, it’s not that simple. An article in Inc. states “men interrupt 33 percent more often when talking to women versus other men.” A woman in commercial real estate that was interviewed by the Huffington Post explained, “Because I’m a woman working in a male-dominated industry, clients sometimes look right through me.” Occurrences like these leave women feeling hurt, with self-doubt and wounded egos.
Fortunately, women are resilient. There is no giving up. Instead, we find a different approach. The following five tips are provided to master being a woman in commercial real estate.
1- Don’t take it personally
2- Link up with other women in commercial real estate
3- Get a mentor
4- Make direct eye contact and engage with the audience
5- Don’t over commit
In closing, whatever method used, women are proving themselves beyond worthy. “Research by Catalyst found Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentage of female corporate officers reported, on average, a 35.1 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher return to shareholders than companies with the lowest percentages of female corporate officers.” Overall, women are making a positive effect on the industry and it shows.