In celebration of Women's History Month (which takes place every March), we're highlighting an area where women have been historically underrepresented: commercial real estate, or CRE. Like many professions, CRE has been viewed as mainly a man's profession -- and it still is -- but more women are entering the field all the time. And that's a good thing for the industry.
Industries not diverse can be targets
Diversity is a big buzzword these days. If your business or industry is seen as a "good ol' boys club," it won't necessarily bode well in a public relations sort of way. But more than that, the old way of keeping minority groups out -- of which women in business are considered -- leads to the divide between the haves and the have-nots in society, an unfair system and one that can eventually lead to rioting and unrest.
Diversity can help the CRE industry
Diversity is good for business. One study found that the more diverse the management team, the higher the revenues for those businesses. This is because of innovation that comes from having different ideas, which tends to happen when minority groups contribute.
Women in CRE
Women in executive management roles in the commercial real estate industry increased from 12% in 2016 to 15% in 2020, according to research conducted by NAREIM, a real estate investment management industry association. There's also been a jump in the amount of senior-level professionals who are women: 30% in 2020 compared to 23% in 2016.
The trend is continuing, as 44% of new executive management hires in 2019 were women. This is a "meaningful factor in driving demographic shifts," says Zoe Hughes, CEO of NAREIM, in Commercial Property Executive.
International investors prefer companies that feature women
Tracy A. Murphy is a veteran of the CRE industry. She's currently president of IQHQ, a real estate investment trust (REIT) in the life sciences sector. Murphy told Commercial Property Executive, "International investors are drawn to diverse leadership teams and increasingly prefer companies that feature women in executive leadership and on their boards." She stressed that as the United States continues to conduct international business, the CRE industry needs to get up to speed regarding putting more women in power roles.
People tend to gain opportunities in commercial real estate through social systems -- who you know. And many people who advance in the CRE industry do so from having mentors. There are still relatively few women in advanced positions in CRE, so it's difficult for women to find other women to mentor them.
The Millionacres bottom line
Some men recognize that the boys club is not the only way to do business and are giving women those stretch assignments, from which careers can be built. No one should just be given a high-powered job; people need to earn that spot. But more people need to be given the chance to earn it. And for women in CRE, those chances are coming more often now, which is good for everyone.