Commercial Real Estate Is All Straight White Males and That May Never Change.

Commercial Real Estate Is All Straight White Males and That May Never Change.

You Are Not A Man.

Almost a year ago to the day I wrote 10 Reasons You Will Never Become A Commercial Real Estate Broker.

I had no idea at the time but since it has been posted it has gone on to be by most definitions “viral.” It is read and clicked on more than my home page. I just looked at my stats and it is at the top of the list for views today this week this month this quarter and this year.

There may be many reasons for this but one sticks out at me and if my email is any indication it’s because of #4 on the list.

4. You are not a man. Yes, I said it. Do you want me to repeat it? You are not a man. It’s a man’s world……. most of the time…….. except sometimes.

Well, obviously the ladies took exception.

Stephanie West

“Whenever I receive an off-putting remark about being a woman in CRE, it just makes me work that much harder. Thanks for the bump in motivation, I’m sure my competition will not appreciate it.”

“Oh really Mr. Duke Long. As a woman, aka. Bitch in heels, you have inspired me to work harder (If that’s possible). As a representative of a non-baby boomer generation, I will remember your words, when all of your “boomers” are retiring and or going into nursing homes… generation will be right behind taking your jobs. Let me tell you, non boomers are MUCH different from your generation… is no longer a “man’s world.” Intimidated by a powerful woman perhaps? It’s a good thing you are a boomer, because I don’t think you could survive working with a newer generation with that mentality. It’s a new age, get with the times old man! Yes, I said it!”

The next one is pure gold.

“Duke you are an absolute idiot! I know your type and you exhibit signs of NPD ( let me spell that out for you…Narcissist Personality Disorder! Good news is that in your mind “you” are “NEVER” wrong. The BAD NEWS THAT THERE IS NO CURE for NPD and you will never see that you have a problem.”

Fair Enough?

“If you stand up on the soap box be willing to take the hits.”

Duke Long 2012.

White Man Privilege.

It’s a general statement and one that is not disputed but commercial real estate is made up of mostly ALL STRAIGHT WHITE MALES.

The boomer generation. THE MAN. Mid fifties white educated men who do deals with each other and live in a completely white male world. They live in white houses. They drive white cars. They have white wives and white kids and I have seen this personally——– they have white dogs——without a care in the world.

They don’t have the problems that everyone else in the world has—-because they are STRAIGHT WHITE MALES.

And here is why.

1. They come from money. It’s called generational wealth. Property as in land houses and yes commercial buildings. Stocks bonds mutual funds fixed income instruments and that never-ending steam of wealth that is grandma and grandpa. Inherited passed on invested and leveraged into a base to operate from.

2. Social connections. People connections not the internet kind. Educated family and friends. Extended family and friends in high level positions across various industries. Advice mentorship and that “phone call” to the right person. The latest computer the nicest clothes and a free car with unlimited gas. The friends and family culture of success and the environment set up to make sure it stays that way.

3. The benefit of the doubt. Leaders born leaders. Tall white born leaders. Is there any question? You smile automatically. Always in charge, no question. Always a plan and a mission to accomplish—-and you will follow. Access and priority at the best restaurants the best hotels the best seats the best service. The best deals the best prices the best products and the best technology without a doubt.

4. The suit and the military. The blue suit. It’s the uniform. The respected white business uniform. The suit speaks for itself. The suit and a smile that’s all it takes. The military. The untouchable military. Do not dare not speak against the military. The full camo fatigues bloused trousers crystal black boots beret and a tight clean haircut military. Yes, that is what I use to wear everyday and how dare you question the uniform and all it represents. Did I just shame you quiet? Do you feel the need to validate your patriotism and acknowledge my blue suit and military uniform?

5. A financial head start. Loans for education? What are loans? Education loans? No way. Education paid. All paid. Everything is paid. No jobs to make ends meet. No distraction away from the task at hand and the networking relationship building all paid for education. No burden of repaying. No burden of debt. A clean financial head start.

6. Self-sufficiency and time. The money made, where does it go? To family to friends to “help out?” Do they need it? Even if they do is it really a “need” or is it just a want. How bad can it really be? Time to not work just to make ends meet. Time to expand and grow personally and professionally. Time to decide what to do with that precious time.

So You Want In Anyway!

Or not. You do want in commercial real estate on your terms. Your own terms.

Not the all straight white male dominating terms.

The “playing field should be the same for everyone.”

“It should not matter the color of the skin the persons sexual preference the gender or religion of that human being. The building doesn’t care.”

Duke Long 2015

Acknowledgement of Difference.

I am a straight white male and how edgy is it to put that out in public?

How else am I suppose to relate? It is my experience.

If things need to have to and will change what is the starting point for my straight white male ass?

How about this:

“If you want equality in commercial real estate you have to first acknowledge that things are not equal, they are not equal for women, people of color or persons with a different sexual preference and that those people have problems that straight white males do not.”

Duke Long 2015

Acknowledge that the systematic and oppressive environment of straight male white privilege exists.

Also acknowledge that for anyone other than the straight white male everything–everything is different.

It’s 2015 and this is an issue that commercial real estate needs to address. It always has been.

This is not an issue that is imagined or that has already been dealt with.

Maybe it has in your mind—-your straight white male mind.

How many unjustices has someone suffered at your expense?

How many people have suffered unjustices at your expense without you even knowing?

How many people have suffered unjustices at your expense without you even caring?

The Weight of the World?

Am I putting all straight white males into one big group?

Are we the only one’s responsible for the oppression and unjustices?

Is it too easy for me to be a part of the group and then stand back and light up the flame(George Carlin) throwers?

Is it up to the straight white males to provide a solution?

How about just part of the solution?

How about just dying off to solve the problem once and for all?

Where is your solution?

Commercial Real Estate Is All Straight White Males and That May Never Change.


+1 How many people do you think will watch what they say in front of me now?

+1+1 All I deal with everyday are straight (as far as I know—–wink) white males.

+2 Born and raised in one of the reddest states in the United States. Click on the military pic go ahead. See I just shamed you quite again.


Duke Long


  • The Midwestern US is isolated in many ways, my friend.
    Your truths, as tongue-in-cheek, as they may be, are likely timing out in more places than not. Property ownership is a huge equalizer for minority classes of all types. The US has about 25% of the worlds population and shrinking. A shrinking fraction of that 25% are straight white males. Thank you for giving props to the uniform.

    • Wow! I’m speechless after reading your article, but unfortunately you are right on with your assessment. I have been in the CRE industry for 15 years and for 11 of those 15 years I worked under brokers that were white. I helped grow their brokerages and made a lot of money–real money. But when I left those brokers and basically went independent, it’s like I can’t seem to close the same types and amounts of deals that I used to. I have the same and even more knowledge, tenacity and intensity as before, but somewhere along the way, people now realize that I’m an African-American woman and I can’t seem to add a single large account or listing anymore, and I have all the skills in your 10 reasons why you can’t do commercial real estate except two. I’m not a man and I’m not a boomer. Oh… I guess there’s three… I’m not white. Hard pill to swallow. I’m smart, have a degree, know numbers, mastered the art of negotiation, am bold, not afraid to make the real deal money, have mastered commercial property management, leasing and investment sales and the self-proclaimed “best in the business”. However, it aches me to see some of the white brokers and salespeople who I know for a fact are not as smart or savvy as I am, and to be honest, some of them are downright idiots, but they are getting the deals and I’m not…at least not anymore since I am no longer shielded by white brokers….. They are part of the “good old boys” network and they get the big listings because of who they know or the color of their skin, or their age, and not necessarily because they are the most knowledgeable or skilled. It pisses me off! But, no worries…This is not a pity party, woe is me response. I still make money in the CRE field, just not like I used to. However, I will continue to work in this business and will never stop trying to break through that white ceiling….But kudos to you for speaking the truth. We all know it to be true, but someone actually said it. Bold and refreshing! The question is….how do we make a breakthrough to change this dynamic.

      Yvette Major
      Commercial Property Management, Leasing and Investment Sales.

  • I appreciate that you stood up and stood out with your very bold and very true assertions with this article. As with every game, you must first learn the rules before you play. Knowing the advantages of your opponent can be an advantage for you as well. we can’t languish on the head start others have – it only serves to keep you running slower behind.

  • Your assumptions about boomer agents – rich, no loans, etc… is BS. There isn’t more than a handful of the several hundred agents I’ve know over the years that fit those “assumptions”. In fact, from what I’ve seen, it’s the rich white kid who usually fails.

    Re lack of female agents – research shows it’s by choice as CRE is not a career that appeals to women in part due to the lack of steady pay, hours and a general lack of awareness of the field/what it entails. And if you read articles on women in CRE, they rarely point to discrimination as an issue.

    But whatever… For those blaming every rotten thing in the world on the privileged white straight male, stop working with or for them because they’re not going to change into underprivileged, non-white/straight/males any time soon. And to the privileged white straight males reading this, this is a bias some people have against you that’s not likely to change. I wouldn’t work with or for them either.

    • I don’t know where you live but most all of the brokers I have been around are BOOMERS, Rich White Straight Male Boomers. Maybe you are too close to see. The lack of female agents comment is dead on. I don’t see any ladies crying and whining to get on the back of a garbage (a very much respected and valuable) truck to “break the glass ceiling” So yeah it’s tough as hell being a STRAIGHT WHITE MALE today. Guess what happens when I wake up tomorrow and look in the mirror? There is that face again.

      • If you’re saying the rich white boomers came into the industry that way, you’re wrong. I watched them get hired. Most of them came out of college that was paid in part through work/study programs. Or they were bartenders, waiters, sold beer, toilet paper or farm equipment and came in looking for something better. If they were lucky, they had a supportive partner with a second income to get them through the first few years. Maybe where you live they all had parents footing the bills but not here in secondary/tertiary markets. But to imply that the success of an entire generation of white male CRE agents is due to “white privilege” is just wrong.

          • Well you can start making CRE a better place by, as another poster said, looking at each agent as an individual instead of coloring an entire class as a bunch of rich (OMG!), bigoted oppressors. While there are jerks every where and of any age/race/gender/sex, most CRE agents could care less about anything other than whether you can perform or not.

  • Hey, that’s me. I’m both flattered and mortified to be mentioned in this post. For what it’s worth, I think the other two comments were a bit dramatic and I regret being lumped into that.

    CREOutsider is dead on with their statement about why women are generally not attracted to CRE. I turned 30 this year and have been putting off the whole kids thing because of how it could potentially affect my business. That is a hard decision to make and is the biggest challenge, for me, as a woman in CRE.

    To be honest, I don’t think (gender) discrimination is a big issue in CRE, even here in the south. When I receive an offensive comment I judge that specific person and don’t generalize all baby-booming old white dudes. I actually find that I catch more flack for my age rather than my gender.

    In fact, I often think being a woman is an advantage in CRE. I’m seen as more approachable. We typically have a better phone voice which helps me book more meetings from cold calls. Attention to detail? Check. Better listener? Check. When I screw up, my clients (mostly men) seem to be more understanding and forgiving. It’s hard to say NO to a sharply dressed, well spoken, knowledgeable, confident woman which I’m assuming helped me win my last two listing pitches over my market’s top producing (old white guy) brokers. I think the playing field is just fine the way it is.

  • As a woman who has been in and out of the real estate industry for over 20 years, I agree with you Duke: the industry first needs to recognize that there is a problem and then put some effort towards fixing it. The CRE industry will eventually learn that diversity is not just a good thing to do, it’s good for business. Economists are starting to track the performance of companies with diversified board members and senior management and are finding that (1) they outperform the markets and (2) have reduced occurrences of fraud. This is because with diversity you avoid groupthink and everyone on the team does better.

    It’s not impossible to change the industry. Most industries were male dominated at some point in time. At Sperry Van Ness International Corp., we are trying to buck the industry average of having only 10%-20% women and minorities in brokerage. In the past three years we have diversified our leadership team and board of directors. We are actively seeking diverse franchisees and working with recruiters on behalf of our existing franchisees to look beyond the traditional networks for brokerage candidates. I agree with CREOutsider that our strongest candidates come from very different backgrounds. We have sponsored groups like CREW, Project REAP and http://www.5050× Our CEO/President, Kevin Maggiacomo has even given a TEDx talk on how he finally recognized that he was part of problem and why others like him need to stick their neck out and do something about it.

    So to all the diverse brokers out there reading this — hang in there. Take risks, work smarter, find companies where you have a clear path to leadership, keep expanding your networks and let’s change the industry together. Thank you Duke for giving us all a soapbox to sound off on this.

    • Thank you Diane, for taking the time to respond. Duke, I’m one of the 10-20% woman owned commercial real estate companies. I own the Phoenix Arizona franchise of Sperry Van Ness. I’ve been with the company over 15 years and started as an agent. The company has always been very supportive of women in the industry. I might also add, that in the past 5 years the Phoenix office has been one of the top 10 sales offices for Sperry VAn Ness.

      If I had more time, I could give you 10 reasons Women of any color make better commercial real estate brokers…..But, I’m playing with the big boys, so I have to get back to work!

  • As a young black male just starting out in CRE, this is my experience. I need to overcome the fact that similarly situated colleagues and friends of mine who are white have connections and mentorship that I don’t. I can outwork them, but I can’t out privilege them.