Cover Feature

Finding Common Ground

Setting the pace for gender equality in real estate

In an increasingly polarizing world, one issue that rallies support from people across party lines is gender equality. From this year’s historic women’s marches… to Ivanka Trump’s professed passion for women’s issues like wage equality and child care… to the enormously popular “Fearless Girl” statue staring down the famous bull in New York City’s Financial District for International Women’s Day (site of this issue’s cover shoot), gender equality remains firmly in the international spotlight. Now, one of New York’s preeminent women-led ad agencies is taking that spotlight and shining it brightly on the achievements of women in the real estate sector.

Pace, a full–service branding and marketing agency based in New York City, recently launched a campaign focusing on gender equality in the commercial and residential real estate sectors. The campaign is part of a larger, worldwide initiative known as Common Ground, designed to help address the world’s most pressing problems.

Throughout the year, Pace is producing a series titled Trailblazers: Pioneering Women in Real Estate, which focuses on women who have made significant strides in commercial and residential real estate and related fields. The campaign launched in February with a feature on Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s New York Tri-State Region. Each interview highlights a different woman’s story and achievements: how they broke in and made it in the industry, advice they have for other women starting out or advancing in the field, and more. The interviews are featured on the Pace website and are being promoted throughout the industry.

Other women who have been interviewed for the campaign or will soon be featured include: Adrienne Albert, CEO of The Marketing Directors; Onay Payne, equity partner at Clarion Partners; Roxanne Donovan, president of Great Ink Communications; Giovanna Pergola, regional sales director for Meyers Research; Ellen Israel, executive managing director of JRT Realty; Robyn Reiss, executive director of Commercial Observer; Samantha Sax, executive vice president of ELAD Group; Lesley Lisser, director of Asset Management at Invesco; Stacey Cohen, president & CEO of Co-Communications; Jennifer McLean, CFO at Kushner Companies; Debra Tantleff, founding principal of Tantum Real Estate; and Carol Short, CEO of the New Jersey Builders Association. More women will be featured as the year progresses.

Cara Faske, president of Pace, commented on her agency’s unique initiative. “We’re thrilled to be able to create a campaign like this to focus attention on such a crucial issue,” Faske said. “Women in the labor market still earn an average of 24% less than men globally, according to the United Nations, so advancing gender equality is critical for social progress in every area. At Pace, we work with so many clients in the commercial and residential real estate industries, so it made sense for us to design a campaign that zeroes in on these fields. Commercial real estate in particular is a sector that has traditionally been male dominated. Thankfully, today, more and more women are playing significant roles in the field. We want to salute the women of real estate – pioneers who have shattered so many glass ceilings. The program may be called Common Ground, but these women are anything but common. They are true trailblazers – and it’s an honor for us to be able to spotlight their careers and their tremendous achievements. Additionally, as a women-led agency, developing a campaign like this is especially meaningful for us.”

Faske was named President of Pace in 2014, after starting her career at the agency. Over the course of her 25-year career dedicated to marketing real estate in New York City and nationally, Faske has directed campaigns for many of the largest real estate companies in the US, including Silverstein Properties, SL Green, and Boston Properties among many others. Prior to joining Pace, Faske served as president of Cara Martin, a successful full-service advertising and branding agency she founded in 2003. The firm became part of the WPP family in 2011. She is joined on Pace’s executive management team by Holly Kingsley, chief operations officer, with additional female leadership provided by creative director, Yuk-Chun Yu. The company’s Florida office is also woman-led, headed by Phyllis Green, chairman of Pace’s Green division.

Spearheading the Common Ground campaign for Pace has been Maeghan Gough, social media coordinator, and Randy Kershner, associate creative director. To help promote the campaign, the agency is hitting the road to participate in various real estate and women-focused events around the area, including sponsorship of February’s Real Estate Women’s Forum in NYC, the annual event that brings together over 500 real estate executives for a day of networking and education.

The international Common Ground initiative was developed at the suggestion of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2016 at the Cannes Lions Festival, a global event for those working in the creative communications, advertising and related fields. WPP, the world’s largest communications services group (and parent company to Pace), joined with five of the world’s other largest advertising and marketing services groups, putting aside competitive differences to launch the international initiative, which supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of the initiative, each group is focusing on a specific area of the United Nations’ SDGs. WPP chose to focus efforts on gender equality, with each of the group’s companies designing unique projects and campaigns to address and direct public attention to this critical issue.

As part of the Pace Common Ground campaign, the agency is also supporting and highlighting the work of Bottomless Closet, a NYC-based organization that offers an innovative approach to workforce preparation for disadvantaged women transitioning from unemployment and public assistance to work.

Pace’s Common Ground campaign is off to a tremendous start, according to Faske. “We’re hearing a lot of positive response to the campaign after only the first month and a half,” Faske commented. “And the buzz is growing! In fact, it’s kind of snowballing, with people now nominating other women who they feel deserve to be spotlighted. There are certainly enough achievements by so many women of distinction in the field, that we could easily carry the campaign well beyond our one-year plan.”

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