Across the country, women are changing jobs at the fastest rate ever. Women in leadership positions are particularly mobile and at a higher rate than men in leadership positions.
To put the scale of the problem into perspective: For every woman at the director level who is promoted to the next level, two female directors choose to leave their company, according to research from McKinsey & Co.’s Women in the Workplace 2022 (L survey collected information from 333 participating organizations employing more than 12 million people, surveyed more than 40,000 employees, and conducted interviews with women of diverse identities, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities ).
The commercial real estate industry is not immune to churn. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, one in four professional women (27%) surveyed by CREW Network have taken a new job with another commercial real estate company, while eight percent surveyed for a new job but have not changed, according to the organization’s 2022 industry research paper, Building the CRE Workforce of the Future. The research study gathered information from more than 1,200 commercial real estate professionals in five countries, in more than 25 specializations and 10 sectors.
Of the 27% who left to take on a new role at another company, 51% sought a better opportunity/career advancement, while 22% said their values/priorities no longer aligned with their old company. Only 13 percent left for better pay/benefits.
Meanwhile, women leaders are more than 1.5 times more likely than men at their level to have left a previous job because they wanted to work for a company with a greater commitment to DEI, according to McKinsey.
“Many women have moved on to other opportunities that better match their career aspirations and lifestyle,” says Wendy Mann, CEO of CREW Network. “It was dubbed ‘The Great Aspiration’.” The implications of this trend for commercial real estate businesses are significant. If companies cannot retain the female employees they have today, especially women leaders, their future as diverse and inclusive workplaces will be in jeopardy. This is especially true for commercial real estate, where women make up 37% of the overall workforce and hold just 9% of industry leadership positions.
“Young women are even more ambitious, and they place a higher value on working in a fair, supportive, and inclusive workplace,” says McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2022. “They are watching older women leave for better opportunities, and they are ready to do the same.
The global consultancy found that more than two-thirds of women under 30 want to become senior executives. Additionally, well over half say advancement has become more important to them in the past two years.
“DEI is no fun to have,” Mann says. “It’s a must in the world we live in today, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because success depends on having diverse and innovative people in their organizations. Research has shown that the bottom line is 10% better with women in leadership positions. »
“Broken Rung” is still broken
The scarcity of female leaders is partly attributable to the “broken rung” – a term used to describe the first step from entry level to manager. Consider this: For every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted and only 82 women of color are promoted, according to McKinsey.
Mann notes that the percentage of women in the commercial real estate industry has remained stable over the past five years. Even more alarming is the fact that the percentage of female leaders has not changed over the past 15 years. This lack of progress reflects the relentless challenges that women face when stepping into leadership positions.
“When the pandemic hit, we felt like progress was really derailed for women, or at the very least, progress was delayed,” Mann says. “However, our recent research tells us that women are more satisfied with their careers because employers take care of pay administration and provide pay transparency. This is positive progress, although it is still slow.
More than table stakes
When it comes to DEI, many people use the term “table stakes”. In this context, table stakes refer to the minimum DEI effort required to have a credible market position. Examples of DEI table issues include tracking representation and attrition by gender and race, conducting equal pay assessments and adjustments as needed, and setting clear assessment criteria. and specific for hiring and performance reviews.
Over 92% of CREW survey respondents in 2022 said their companies are inclusive (for the purposes of the survey, inclusive refers to the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as people with disabilities or from other minority groups).
It is important to note, however, that 44% of respondents described their company as “somewhat” inclusive. A much smaller percentage have progressed to leading DEI practices such as setting representation goals in leadership and senior management by the intersection of gender and race (e.g., women of color) , forming allies and establishing formal sponsorship and/or mentoring programs specifically for women and/or women of color.
An even smaller percentage of companies (less than 30%) have implemented emerging DEI efforts. Examples include offering financial incentives to senior executives for making progress on diversity metrics and having a bias monitor in candidate assessments for hiring and promotion decisions.
Multi-Family Developer and Manager NRP Group is among the small percentage of companies that have embraced DEI’s emerging efforts. For example, the Cleveland, Ohio-based company created a diversity leadership council and uses a DEI dashboard to track its progress, according to Jennifer Baus, director and executive vice president of design and rights for the Cleveland, Ohio-based company.
“We have made steady progress over the past few years with DEI, and we are committed to continuing to improve,” she says.
Currently, women make up 40% of NRPs and 59% of NRP executives. Women and people of color make up 45% of senior management and senior management at the company.
Imagine a place for yourself
When it comes to recruiting women and women of color, DEI professionals often talk about representation. When potential employees don’t see themselves in the commercial real estate industry, when they don’t see anyone who looks like them, it’s hard for them to imagine a place for themselves.
“When I joined the PNR, I looked around and didn’t have anyone of the same gender that I looked up to or who I could ask for advice,” Baus says. “There were a few women who were my equals, but no one before me.”
According to CREW Network’s most recent benchmark study (2020), women in commercial real estate rank the lack of a mentor or business sponsor as one of the top three barriers to their advancement in the industry. Only 56% of respondents to the 2022 survey said they had access to a mentor or sponsor in the past two years. The number was significantly lower for people of color – only 21% had a mentor or sponsor in the past two years.
These personal relationships lead to relationships that can transform and advance careers. With the help of mentors, it’s much easier for talent to develop strong working relationships with their managers, peers, and other key stakeholders.
Baus, after years of dreaming of starting a women’s resource group, founded NRP’s Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) in 2018. keep it there,” she says.
WIN initiatives include: NRP Legacy, a series of fireside chats hosted in conjunction with Cleveland State University on the power of mentorship; Curiosity conversations, panel discussions with industry leaders around relevant topics that impact the business; and Limitless, talks that delve into leadership and emotional intelligence.
Baus is confident that WIN has positively contributed to NRP’s ability to recruit and retain talented women at all levels. “I think it helps attract applicants and encourage them to come to PRN because we show them that we are so welcoming,” she says.
She also credits WIN for helping advance women in the NRP, including herself. Two years ago, she and chief information officer Rachel Johnson joined the company’s leadership team, and earlier this year the two women were named principals, the first women to be welcomed into the partnership in 25 years of company history.
“Now that Rachel and I are directors, I hope our employees, especially our female employees, can see that their interests are represented and protected by other women,” Baus says.