3 CEOs commit to advancing women and DEI in commercial real estate

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A growing body of research shows that stronger business results directly correlate with diverse teams and inclusive workplaces. However, commercial real estate, an industry serving many diverse populations, has a workforce that remains predominantly male and white. According to CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), the leading producer of gender and diversity research in commercial real estate, very little progress has been made in the past five years. I decided to ask three CEOs in the commercial real estate industry about their commitment to advancing women and encouraging greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) in the space and why this is important.

The CEOs are:

⮚ Wendy Mann, CEO of CREW Network – The premier business network dedicated to transforming the commercial real estate industry by advancing women around the world.

⮚ Mark Rose, CEO of Avison Young – A global commercial real estate advisor who creates real economic, social and environmental value.

⮚ Larry P. Heard, CEO of Transwestern – A commercial real estate company that provides real estate development, agency leasing and commercial property management services.

Reiss: What are you doing specifically as an industry leader to encourage greater diversity in commercial real estate?

Wendy Mann: CREW Network has launched the CRE Pledge for Action, an industry-first, CEO-led initiative designed to advance women and elevate actions that encourage greater DEI in the commercial real estate industry. Fifteen CEOs of large commercial real estate companies have already signed up. By signing up, these progressive business leaders commit to taking action and holding themselves and their employees accountable for implementing initiatives that advance women and DCI.

Marc Rose: The best way to encourage meaningful change in the industry is to be honest, to be responsible, and to take action. The reality is that CRE needs people who represent a diversity of perspectives and thoughts for the future and although efforts are being made, there is still a long way to go.

Quota setting is not the approach we take at Avison Young, but rather we focus on education, development, culture and norms for long term mindset and behavior change. The changes we make today must continue to have an impact tomorrow and that is why we are committed to making lasting change both within our organization and across the industry. Recent executive hires and appointments to our Board of Directors and Executive Committee have given us the opportunity to recruit experienced, talented and dynamic individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and it is exciting to see Avison Young propelled by people motivated by a common goal of creating real economic, social and environmental value.

Larry heard: The power of diversity and inclusion is nothing new to Transwestern. One of the guiding principles of the firm – established over 40 years ago – is mutual respect. We strive to make everyone’s voice heard and encourage the sharing of ideas, regardless of your gender, age, race or other characteristics. We expect our leaders to mentor and invest time in others, solicit their contribution and support their professional development, as this is at the heart of our commitment to a culture of empowerment.

Transwestern’s population is currently 40% female, and we strive to achieve a balance that matches the demographics of the country across all service lines and employment levels. In fact, this is one of the most important goals of our national program for young professionals – to ensure that a diverse group of people interested in commercial real estate understand the variety of career paths that exist. ‘offer them and that they have the necessary skills for future leaders of our organization.

Reiss: How do you approach this fundamental question in the workplace?

Mann: Through our pledge, we ask signatories to the pledge to take action and, in turn, improve performance, drive growth and improve employee engagement. The engagement supports the advancement of women and others in under-represented groups, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, religion and age.

According to the CREW 2020 Network Benchmark Study: Gender and Diversity in Commercial Real Estate, conducted in partnership with the MIT Center for Real Estate, we found that women earn 10% less than men in base wages and 56 % less in commissions and bonuses each year. ; women occupy 37% of industry and only 9% of managerial positions; and only 16% of CRE workplaces have 25% or more employees from various backgrounds. CEOs must act to address these fundamental issues in the workplace to create a culture that values ​​and embraces diverse experiences, thoughts and outcomes. It’s a time when leaders have the opportunity to really change the industry and go with their talk.

Pink: We have a strategic D&I roadmap established in our business that creates a respectful and supportive workplace that not only reflects the communities we serve, but also creates an active culture in supporting and promoting D&I initiatives in the world. whole world.

Long before it was in fashion, Avison Young focused his attention on the lack of diversity in our industry and implemented its overall DCI strategy. We have worked hard to launch a series of conscious and engaging programs, trainings and empowerment initiatives to address a variety of visible and invisible diversity elements, including racial, gender and sexual orientation equality. Programs have been implemented to help us attract and retain underrepresented talent, a Global Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board has been established, and unconscious bias training has been provided to our staff, which currently achieves a 70% completion rate.

It is important to us that Avison Young is a place where people feel they can show themselves and that they are supported, respected, engaged and rewarded. At the end of the day, we always put people at the heart of what we do.

Understood: While respect for each individual is ingrained in our culture, Transwestern management constantly strives to refine our approach to diversity, internally and externally. We are an entrepreneurial organization and we didn’t want DCI to be a top-down initiative. Instead, we enlisted the voices of under-represented groups across the country as well as those passionate about advancing IED to build a framework around four goals: awareness, belonging, training and the talent. Each goal is supported by a national committee made up of team members from different geographies and service lines that help guide local efforts. These people are the ambassadors who hold each other accountable, share challenges and successes, and drive the initiative forward.

This initiative is not just the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. We have seen time and time again that we bring together different perspectives to solve a problem, we ultimately get the best result. This is what we all owe to our team members and our customers: the best possible solutions to meet their unique needs.

Reiss: How can other CRE industry leaders take action to influence change?

Mann: For the commercial real estate industry to become more gender balanced and diverse, we need the hundreds of CEOs in this industry to commit to diversity. At CREW Network, we encourage CEOs to join our CRE Pledge for Action and commit to real change. Our commitment incorporates intentional, meaningful and measurable objectives that will have lasting impacts on the industry. CEOs need to take the necessary steps to drive change and demonstrate that leadership and accountability start at the top.

Pink: A good place to start would be to join the DCI commitment of CREW Network and commit to supporting the advancement of women and others in under-represented groups. By signing the pledge, companies can take key actions such as closing the pay gap, increasing inclusion across the corporate landscape, advancing women into leadership roles, and recruiting and hiring. intentionally from people of diverse backgrounds.

It’s time for industry leaders to step up to the plate – it means making a concerted effort to change mindsets and behaviors and develop programs to bring lasting change within their organizations.

Understood: Our organization recognizes that in order to improve, we must be willing to openly discuss the challenges we face as individuals and as an organization. Fortunately, a high level of trust and respect among our team members sets the stage for sincere and honest discussions about where we are today and where we hope to be in the future.

A more structured approach to DCI has allowed us to better define goals, share them widely, and hold each other accountable for results. Nurturing and promoting talent from within is a good example of how change can be measured, as is cultivating relationships with organizations that champion diversity. In addition, regularly communicating on progress at local and national level keeps our efforts in mind and propels us forward. We have found that sharing individual stories within our organization personalizes the need and value of diversity in the workplace.

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