Driving success and impact through inclusion.
By: Nicole Joseph, COO, Sharestates
Diversity, Inclusion and Profit
Homogeneity is bad for business.
We’ve known this empirically since at least 2003 when an Iowa State University study proved that the more women and ethnic minorities sit on a company’s board, the better its return on assets, compared with other firms in the same industry. That’s still the case.
A 2018 Harvard study showed that venture capital firms that are racially uniform produce financial results one-quarter to one-third lower than more diverse firms. Frankly, there’s no shortage of analyses that similarly conclude that empowering women is good for business, and few, if any, suggest otherwise.
Women have long been underrepresented in corporate America. The real estate industry, however, has been somewhat different. Women have been major participants in this field since at least the 1930s, but that presence was historically confined to the residential market. An Urban Land Institute survey shows a paucity of women in leadership roles in CRE organizations of 100 or more employees. Most new U.S. businesses in recent years have been started by women, according to SCORE, which would explain why women would be more highly represented atop smaller organizations.
The Network Effect
Together women and men have been navigating through a cultural shift in gender roles in the workplace over the past few decades. While women have long been accepted in support roles in large organizations, advancing in leadership roles often requires mentoring beyond traditional job training. The real estate industry has benefited from strong networks of women leadership groups including long-standing networks such as Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), which is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this year, as well as new, local meetups empowered by social media groups in nearly every city of the country. Thanks to veteran groups such as CREW and new groups powered by the internet age, it’s easier than ever to find ways to get involved and connect with other women in the industry.
“Women need to collaborate and boost each other up to succeed in any industry, but especially in high-demand commercial real estate,” said Chicago Association of Realtors CEO Ginger Downs during a 2017 forum. “We need to promote mentorship and look at what initiatives can make an impact, like slashing the wage gap and increasing the number of women executives.”
Diversity matters. Inclusion matters. Representation matters. All these underpin access to decision-making power, and that matters.
CRE’s glass ceiling is being broken, and we can thank a number of women who drilled sizable holes in it: Mary Ann Tighe, who heads CBRE’s New York tri-state region; Jean Kane, in the Minneapolis area; Mary Ann Gilmartin, founder of L&L MAG; and others. Yesterday, women needed to content themselves with the opportunities afforded by real estate. Tomorrow, women will be able to take advantage of hard-won equality.
Today, we must connect, support and mentor each other to fulfill that promise.
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