Congratulations to all of the Women of Influence 2017! I am
honored to be included in this group of industry-leading achievers, leaders and ground-breakers.
My CEO believes in my abilities
and talents but, more importantly,
sponsors me through the toughest
projects and important clients. By
recommending me to high-profile
clients, he not only affects the way I
view my contributions and strengths,
but also how my colleagues value and
treat one another, and the way our
clients view women and diversity
within our firm. By putting value on
equal contributions in the decision
room, we collaborate and strengthen
While I am fortunate to have a sponsor and work in an incredibly supportive and inclusive environment, unconscious bias is
everywhere—even amongst the most aware. Recently in a client
meeting, I was interrupted by a male colleague. To his credit, he
caught himself and apologized for interrupting me and asked
that I continue. To my credit, I did not hesitate to continue, but
thanked him and moved forward with my point. Oftentimes, if
we can recognize and lead through moments of bias with a bit of
humor and grace, we can move forward positively toward lasting
change in the industry.
As women influencers in a male-dominated industry, we have
shared experiences—including both successes and barriers—as
we have advanced in the profession. Our successes are celebrated
when we close big deals, are named to prestigious lists and
advance to the top levels of our organizations. However, our
obstacles are often not widely recognized or shared. For the benefit of the current and future generations of women in this field,
I consider recognizing our barriers and setbacks equally as important as acknowledging our successes.
According to the Commercial Real Estate Women Network’s
2015 Benchmark Study Report, top barriers to success that
women face in commercial real estate are:
•;The lack of a company mentor or sponsor
•;The lack of promotion opportunity
•;Gender discrimination and bias
Women’s leadership programs and initiatives are widely uti-
lized to help women find mentors and get in the pipeline for
career opportunities. To address the latter hurdle, it takes hon-
esty in our own biases and personal responsibility to lead true
change. While women have equal capabilities in work, leadership
and career success, both men and women still unconsciously—
and often consciously—expect women to adhere to a different
code of behavior than men in the workplace.
According to CREW Network’s 2016 white paper, Closing the
Gap: Addressing Gender Bias and Other Barriers for Women in
Commercial Real Estate, 65% of professionals have personally
experienced or observed gender bias against women in their
commercial real estate workplace in the past five years.
As women of influence, along with our colleagues and peers,
it is our obligation to lead the charge in breaking down these
barriers and reducing gender bias and its impact on women in
our industry. Here are a few recommendations from the 2016
CREW Network white paper:
•;Be honest about bias in your hiring, promoting, assigning
of challenging projects, compensation practices and inclu-
sion in high-profile client relationship development. Take
women to high-level client meetings and networking out-
ings so they can build those relationships.
•;Support women in your workplace and consistently speak
up when you see biases or unfair treatment.
•;Conduct an evaluation of compensation annually to ensure
fair pay. Over 60% of 2016 CREW Network survey respondents felt that employers would have more equitable pay if
they were required to share compensation information.
•;Change who is at the table. Your team and company will
benefit from diverse perspectives.
•;Don’t be reluctant to give a woman constructive criticism
necessary to her career development. Don’t be reluctant to
assign her a challenging project either.
•;Use unconscious bias tools and provide training workshops
to all staff to increase awareness.
CREW Network is the world’s leading researcher on women in
commercial real estate, and with the support of industry research
program sponsor CBRE, it is delivering data and direction to
companies and individuals to advance women’s success. In
October, CREW Network will release its 2017 white paper featuring case studies and best practices for gender equity and inclusion in commercial real estate. ◆
Women of Influence:
Lift Others as You Rise
By putting value on equal
contributions in the decision
making room, we collaborate
and strengthen each other.
BY ALISON BEDDARD
Alison Beddard is the 2017 president of CREW Network, as well as
senior director, office and investment, with Cushman & Wakefield
Commerce. She may be contacted at email@example.com The
views expressed here are the author’s own.