Women in CRE and the importance of mentoring
The field of commercial real estate has always been difficult for women. However, the situation is improving thanks to the personalities who have made their way into the world of CRE. Many have embraced the concept of “Pay it Forward” and have reached out to the next generation.
Our two Pay next and Women of influence categories featured individuals who have been willing to guide others, either through direct mentorship or through participation in organizations that broaden the playing field in our industry.
One piece of advice that comes up over and over in our question-and-answer sessions is that women in CRE should be fully aware of their self-esteem. Rainey Shaine, Vice President at JLL, actions, “Taking stock of and cultivating (your) inherent strengths will form the foundation of confidence.
Robin Ziegler, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Cedar Realty Trust, emphasizes the importance of having someone who reminds you of your worth. “Early in my career, I remember walking out of a boardroom with all the white male counterparts. I was the youngest, I was the only woman and the only person of any form of diversity in the room. As we were going out, my boss said something to me that changed my thought process. He said, “You are just as smart, if not smarter, than everyone in this room.”
Many of the influential women we spoke with referred to a history of underestimation by men in positions of power. Robin Ziegler wisely says, “If someone wants to underestimate your abilities, let them. Laurie Lustig-Bower, Executive Vice President of CBRE, tells us, “To overcome this problem, I usually take special care in demonstrating my abilities and my self-confidence in order to make sure that I am not fired or neglected on the basis of being a woman.”
It’s not just what women can do individually. Mentorship and organizations encourage businesswomen everywhere, including real estate. “I am proud to see the movement that we are living now, of women who collaborate to build themselves, rather than tear each other apart”, declares Lissette Calderon, President and CEO of Neology Life Development Group.
Specific advice comes from Dorothy Alpert, Director and President of Tri-State at Avison Young: “Women should focus on three areas: 1) Find a mentor (s) early in your career; 2) Get involved in every available opportunity: refusing an invitation to participate will be a missed opportunity; 3) Network as much as possible, even with peers from other companies.
Several of our interviewees spoke of belonging to women’s real estate organizations. Here are some links to groups dedicated to advancing careers for women in real estate:
The National Association of Women in Real Estate Companies
Council of Women Real Estate Agents
~ Article written by Cary Steiner ~
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