A commercial real estate professional took notice that, although he sat among some of the “best and brightest minds” in the commercial real estate industry, he realized that everyone at that table looked just like everyone else. That table? It was full of white men.
Research done by @fairygodboss pointed out that women look for jobs in different places than men. We all know that men are more likely to apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the job requirements compared to women who apply only when they meet 100% of those same requirements. Men don’t need to meet all the requirements, all they need is the belief in their ability to do the job without needing to fulfill each required qualification. Men are more likely to utilize word of mouth, digital job boards, LinkedIn, and social media for potential jobs (Fairygodboss, 2017).
But are CRE brokerage jobs even posted anywhere for brokers or even those potentially interested in a brokerage role to apply? After searching several national CRE firms career pages, I found the majority of job postings are for administrative, marketing, and property management positions; all of which are predominately held by female professionals.
Diane Danielson and her team at SVN International discovered that twice as many women than men in CRE got their first job in the industry by more formal means. Perhaps since the primary job postings are strictly female dominate jobs, that is where the women in the industry start and are likely to stay; in those positions. Does this make women less likely to be recruited for a brokerage position?
Most of the female brokers I have personally met started in CRE by having a marketing or administrative position first. So, how are the new brokers who aren’t already in an admin/marketing position getting into CRE? It’s probably not through online applications.
Word of mouth hiring isn’t dead. It’s alive and well. It’s how many, many, many brokers are recruited and found; especially if there is a former relationship and a current CRE broker can see themselves in that new hire. (Now, don’t get me wrong; word of mouth is in every industry. After all, it’s not what you know, but who you know these days that rings true in many instances).
Current CRE brokers are seeking out people like themselves. They’re more likely to hire someone like them, maybe it’s even a family affair. Current brokers are more willing to a hire a “walk-in” who sells him or herself (mostly himself) or recruit from another firm since the new hire will likely fit the current CRE mold of a broker.
But have leaders taken a look inside their own company for possibilities of advancing a current team member? One that may look and think a little different than the other brokers in the office? Have they considered teaming up with a local university to explore and connect with future graduates in real estate; help diversify the applicant pool a little bit more? Are the women who may seem to be “stuck” in their administrative, marketing or other role speaking up enough; or, are they speaking up and STILL not being heard?
Ultimately, the more diverse a company, the more productivity, innovation, decision making, outperformance of peers, and overall success the company has (FactSet, Asset4, TRBI, Morgan Stanley Research, 2016). Companies, even commercial real estate companies, cannot continue to hire the same sort of person time after time. It’s time to realize that differences are an advantage and an asset to winning business and being profitable.
Casey Flannery is a mid-millennial running on Dunkin’ who likes tweeting and representing landlords and owners in CRE.