CREWBaltimore plays part in the CREW Network White Paper release

It is no secret that our Chapter is abundant with wise, talented members who are engaged in the overall mission of this organization, so it was no surprise to see two of our local women step up and join the CREW Network Industry Research Committee. Michelle Cohen, principal at Miles & Stockbridge P.C., and Karen Pecoraro, ATC Group Services LLC, volunteered on the committee in 2016 and relayed back to us some inside info on what really went into this year-long project.

Here’s what they have to say about the experience:

What support went into making this happen? This full year project was based on work done by CREW Network in 2015 as part of its industry survey – we used the results from that survey to create the topics for the white paper and as part of the basis of our research.  Committees of 20 members each, including representation from the CREWNetwork board and staff, divided into smaller teams for research (gathering information to support the thesis from our survey findings), editorial (writing and editing the paper) and outreach (generating internal and external publicity once the paper was distributed).

How can members get involved in a project of this magnitude? The industry research committee is one of several CREWNetwork committees. Any CREW member can apply for a position on this or another committee by providing information regarding their expertise and skills and how their experience makes them a good fit for a particular committee. For example, referencing specific research and/or writing skills if you are applying to participate on the industry research committee. CREW Network also looks for  participation in internal/external organizations (other than CREWBaltimore) where you have worked on related issues.

Did you learn anything throughout the process? Some of the research was fascinating, particularly as it related to self-bias. Learning what internal factors cause women to stop reaching for the executive suite and how much of this is tied to our own perceptions and needs (rather than external factors).

Following the release of the 2015 Benchmark Study Report: Women in Commercial Real Estate, CREW Network focused on digging deeper into issues that persist and stymie women’s advancement in commercial real estate. Closing the Gap: Addressing Gender Bias and Other Barriers for Women in Commercial Real Estate, CREW Network’s 10th annual white paper, details both statistical data and personal accounts previously unmeasured and unrecorded in our industry – and largely unaddressed.

To gather more detailed and anecdotal data on the commercial real estate workplace in 2016, CREW Network conducted an industry research survey and several interviews. A total of 1,019 industry professionals – both men and women – participated in the survey, which included questions about gender bias, compensation practices, mentoring and sponsorship, ageism and the aspiration gap. 

Read the 2016 CREW Network White Paper “CLOSING THE GAP: Addressing Gender Bias and Other Barriers for Women in Commercial Real Estate” here.

Key Messages of the White Paper:

  • Nearly 2,200 comments and open-ended responses detailed both positive (mentor success stories, supportive environments and workplace practices) and negative (blatant gender bias, unequal benefits and exclusion) experiences in commercial real estate. 
  • While women are gaining ground in the male-dominated commercial real estate profession (as evidenced in the 2015 Benchmark Study Report), the majority are experiencing advancement barriers including gender bias.
  • Of 1,019 commercial real estate professionals surveyed, 65% have personally experienced or observed gender bias against women in their workplace in the last five years.
  • 55% have personally experienced or observed gender bias against women outside of the formal workplace in the last five years (i.e. women excluded from colleague sporting events, hunting or golf trips).
  • 91% of respondents said they have not displayed gender bias against a woman as a hirer or manager in commercial real estate.
  • 32% of respondents believe the lack of support for women in the C-Suite and/or at home is the #1 reason for the industry’s aspiration gap; the second most popular response (26%) was that women believe being in the C-Suite will adversely affect their commitments and responsibilities outside of work.

What We Need From Our Industry Leaders Going Forward

  • Be honest (with yourself) about bias in your hiring, promoting, assigning of challenging projects, compensation practices and inclusion in high-profile client relationship development. Utilize an assessment tool and engage a diversity consultant to recognize bias, take action to overcome it, and put accountability measures in place.
  • Support women in your workplace and speak up when you see biases or unfair treatment. Seemingly small and consistent actions can have a huge impact.
  • Make mentoring and sponsorship of women a priority. Encourage women to strengthen and expand both their internal and external networks, and ensure that mentoring and sponsorship activities include building relationships with high-profile/high-value clients. Mentors and sponsors should also help women become more comfortable with taking the risk of moving to new companies and accepting commission-based compensation in order to advance in their careers.

Donations made to the CREW Network Foundation make it possible to fund industry research and allow CREW Network to remain the leading publisher of research on women in commercial real estate- research that is helping to close the compensation and advancement gap for women. In non-benchmark years the organization budgets approximately $25,000 for industry research expenses and in benchmark years that figure is closer to $67,500. Join us in completing the Chapter Challenge by donating today through this link, CREWbiz or when you check out for your next event registration. For more information regarding the use of Foundation funds, you may contact CREWBaltimore Outreach Committee Liaison, Kim Hogan, Cushman & Wakefield.