Women in commercial real estate are more satisfied with career success and closer to the c-suite than ever

Women occupy more senior vice president, managing director and partner roles in commercial real estate, and are more satisfied with their career success than ever, according to the 2015 Benchmark Study Report: Women in Commercial Real Estate by the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network. The study was conducted over a 10-year span, tracking and analyzing specialization, compensation and career achievement by gender, and while the respondents were all American and spanned entry-level to C-suite positions and represented all major specializations within the field – asset and property management, brokerage and sales, development, and financial services — the results are certainly of value to those in the Canadian real estate industry as well.

Survey respondents revealed important gains made by women in commercial real estate, and areas where inequalities persist. Key findings from the study:

  • Women’s career satisfaction and feelings of success increased across all industry specializations. Women with higher commission-based pay reported the highest career satisfaction.
  • More women fill senior vice president, managing director and partner positions than ever.
  • The percentage of women with direct reports is now on par with their male counterparts.
  • An ‘aspiration gap’ exists between men and women in commercial real estate: 28 per cent of women surveyed aspire to the C-suite vs. 40 per cent of men; 47 per cent of women respondents aspire to the senior vice president, managing director or partner levels.
  • In 2015, the industry median annual compensation was US$115,000 for women and US$150,000 for men – an average income gap of 23.3 per cent. The income gap was widest in the C-suite at 29.8 per cent.
  • One in five women surveyed said that family or marital status has adversely impacted their career or compensation.

“We are encouraged by the positive results of this research and the overall satisfaction of women in commercial real estate, but change is not coming fast enough,” CREW Network CEO Gail S. Ayers said. “We are looking to industry leaders to take action, and CREW Network remains committed to supporting the industry as it makes this change.”

“CREW Network’s long-term research on women in commercial real estate sets the agenda for us to continue to makes strides,” said Ann Cone, senior vice president, Debt & Structured Finance at CBRE and a CREW Network member since 2006. “We need to make mentoring and sponsorships very important to women in their career and encourage them to establish, strengthen and expand their networks throughout their career.”

The 2015 study findings will enhance CREW Network’s research and program agenda, including existing mentoring and targeted programming for senior women. 60 women are currently enrolled in the inaugural CREW Network Certificate in Leadership program, which offers year-long specialized leadership development, industry training, and mentors who are familiar with the challenges in the commercial real estate work environment.

CREW Network enlisted the MIT Center for Real Estate as its independent research partner to survey, tabulate, analyze and produce the 2015 benchmark report. In 2015, respondents were asked the same questions from the 2005 and 2010 surveys to guarantee data integrity and consistency; 2,182 professionals in the commercial real estate industry completed the survey between March and October of 2015.

The study was made possible by the support of CBRE, premier underwriter; senior underwriter Prudential and associate underwriters CREW Dallas, Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR, Fidelity National Title and the National Multifamily Housing Council.

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