34 GLOBEST. REAL ESTATE FORUM JULY/AUGUST 2019
Catsimatidis took a different view of the
Kavanaugh hearing. “If something hap-
pened to you, you should absolutely say it,”
Catsimatidis says. “But do it within five or 10
years at most. If it impacts someone else’s
life after five years, it ought to be limited.”
Arthur Rosenfield, special projects for
Red Apple Group, says Catsimatidis was not
defaming or trying to make a negative state-
ment about women at the AREAA event.
He says Catsimatidis invited Freedman to
come to the podium to express her views.
“John was making a point that everything that happens in Washington affects
real estate in New York City, and
Washington is going crazy with a lot of division. It was a valid, important point,” says
Rosenfield. “I don’t think John should be
treated in any way that he was making a
statement about women.”
HOW TIMES HAVE NOT CHANGED
“I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too
big to ignore,” sang musical artist Helen
Reddy in her song that hit the No. 1 spot on
the Billboard chart in December 1972. That
was 47 years ago, and a month later,
the US Supreme Court passed its
landmark decision Roe v. Wade.
But as Freedman’s—and
the same event show, very little
has changed when the sexes
communicate about certain
Two people can hear the same story:
one will believe a sexual assault took place,
and the other will see a consentual encounter between two young teenagers.
This difference in perspective is at the
crux as to why the genders disagree on
other matters, such as gender pay and discrimination.
Whatever the reason, it is inarguable that
not enough progress has been made in how
women are treated in the workplace—
including commercial real estate.
Sexual assault, harassment, discrimination, and at times, the lack of basic levels of
respect for women are still rampant despite
the #Me Too movement of the last few years.
As for commercial real estate, it remains a
particularly male-dominated profession.
“Women don’t get the same pay and they
are not in positions of power when it comes
to commercial or residential real estate,”
Freedman says. “It’s still very much a Boys’
Club. The owners of firms are men. There
are very few women who have an actual
piece of the pie. Therefore they don’t have
the same influence and ability to do certain
things that men do.”
There’s still a bit of a tussle to try to get
an equal standing with men, she continues.
“It’s still a challenge for people to speak
out, especially when they are not in a strong
Indeed, it is telling that few women were
willing to speak on the record with anec-
dotes of their experiences or those of peers
describing incidents of sexual harassment
and discrimination for this article. Many
women acknowledged there were problems
but declined to be interviewed—fearing
negative repercussions for their firm or
their own careers. Although thoroughly
understandable, such responses sketch a
prevailing atmosphere that hinders change.
News headlines hint at the larger problems that so often go unacknowledged.
Last year billionaire Sam Zell, the
founder and chairman of the real estate
investment firm Equity International,
caused an uproar, which was reported in
several publications. When speaking at the
REIT trade association Nareit’s annual con-
ference, he stated his beliefs in meritocracy,
and claimed to never promote or demote a
woman based on her gender, adding, “I
don’t think there’s ever been a ‘We gotta
get more p--- on the block, OK?’”
Zell apologized to Nareit for using the
vulgarity, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Also, last year, former casino mogul
Steve Wynn resigned as chairman of Wynn
Resorts after the Wall Street Journal reported
allegations of sexual assault and harass-
ment. Often credited with transforming
Mirage Resort & Casino, Wynn has been
accused of multiple claims of sexual mis-
conduct ranging from raping and impreg-
nating a manicurist resulting in a $7.5-mil-
lion settlement in 2005 to exposing
himself and subjecting women to
unwanted sexual advances. The 77-year-
old billionaire has denied the allegations,
saying any sexual conduct that occurred
had been consensual.
Then, in April 2019, news outlets reported
that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
was evaluating Wynn Resorts’ eligibility for a
state casino license to open a location outside of Boston. Publications including the
New York Times reported that the regulator
found high-ranking executives at the company “helped hide the sexual misconduct
allegations” against Wynn. The commission
found executives did not follow company
policy including its 2004 “zero-tolerance”
rule against sexual harassment.
Five women, including four who worked
at Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP,
accused New York City-based architect
Richard Meier of inappropriately touching
them or exposing himself to them. He provided a statement to the New York Times saying, “While our recollections may differ, I
sincerely apologize to anyone who was
offended by my behavior.” After taking a six-month leave of absence, in October 2018,
Meier stepped down from his leadership
position. The 84-year-old architect’s name
still bears a great deal of clout and recognition, especially with his designing projects
such as the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
The firm he founded will continue to operate under its eponymous name.
A GENDER PAY GAP
There are other signs that something is
amiss in CRE: a gap in industry pay.
Holly Neber, the president of CREW
Networking, the professional association of
“I respect and admire all people who courageously speak up about
their experiences, and as a CEO in CRE, I believe there are tangible ways
that we can all take a step forward for gender equity and a more inclusive
culture for women in our industry.”
the president of CREW Networking