CREW’s Efforts to Diversify Commercial Real Estate
A recent study on women in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry has revealed a significant gender imbalance in the sector. The study, conducted by the U.S.-based Commercial Real Estate Women Network (CREW), shows that only 15% of the top CRE management positions were held by women. Additionally, women comprise only ~37% of the commercial real estate sector’s workforce.
According to a CREW Network report, barriers to gender equity can be attributed to an average income gap of 23% between men and women and a disproportionate percentage of men vs. women aspiring for C-suite positions. The demographics of Ohio’s real estate industry - defined as those primarily engaged in renting, managing, leasing, selling, or buying real estate for others - denote that the workforce is just over 81% White, with 95% of self-employed real estate professionals identifying as White. About 14% of those employed in the real estate industry are Black or African American, and approximately 5% of individuals identify as multi-racial, Asian, American Indian, and Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Clearly, there is plenty of cause to encourage the diversification of Ohio's real estate industry. Enter CREW Cleveland.
What Is CREW Cleveland?
CREW Cleveland is an organization of women in commercial real estate dedicated to transforming their industry by advancing the careers of all women around the globe. Through its strong network, the organization uses connections to uplift women within their local markets. This group has positioned itself within the industry as a small but strong resource for its 10,000-member global network. “Our network promotes a lot of leadership opportunities for women, from three-year presidency terms that are intentionally designed to bring more women through leadership, to the referrals our members make for each other on a local and global level. Our leadership summit in June had record attendance,” CREW Cleveland president Mary Gerding said. “We’re seeing more female-owned development firms, but we still have a long way to go.”
Why Diversity and Inclusion Are Important for Industry Growth
In 2017, the CREW Network released a report, Diversity: The Business Advantage, that outlined the importance of diversity in social and business cases. The report highlighted 10 nationwide case studies as examples of companies that are making advancements in diversity and gender parity within executive leadership, including:
- KeyBank Real Estate Capital
- FASS Real Estate Services
- Real Estate Associate Program
- AIA Cleveland
- WIA Women in Architecture
Through these case examples, the report showcased how a mixture of men and women within leadership at companies are better prepared for all situations. Simply put, diverse teams are more innovative and agile. Diverse mindsets and skillsets drive innovation and foster work environments that reward people who are creative, analytical, and hands-on.
“Companies with gender-diverse upper management outperform homogenous companies in return on investment, and they carry less debt. Where women account for the majority of top management, businesses show superior sales growth and higher cash flow returns on investment,” the report said.
In a cognitive intelligence study performed by MIT engineers, research showed that companies with racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to perform at a higher level and have increased ROI. It also showed that companies employing an equal number of men and women manage to produce up to 41% higher revenue.