WELCOME TO THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
of our Women of Influence—a feature that we have
supplemented over the years with CRE’s Women
to Watch and the WoI Hall of Fame. Altogether, 100
women of achievement are profiled in this issue.
This year is significant not only because it is our 25th
time running an issue dedicated to women’s achievements in the industry, but also
because it’s the first one published in the #Me Too era. To be clear, there haven’t
been, as far as we know, public disclosures of the kind of sexual harassment in our
industry that kicked off the #Me Too movement in other sectors. But the hashtag
represents more than just an inappropriate use of power and unwanted advances.
It is also indicative of women’s inequality in the broader workforce and a pay gap
that never seems to close no matter how much lip service is given to the issue.
Not to mention the humiliations that women in commercial real estate must still
endure over churlish behavior and inappropriate language. One only has to look
at NAREIT’s annual conference, held earlier this year, when the exemplar of CRE
investment, Sam Zell, made a vulgar and lewd reference to women. NAREIT and
Zell eventually apologized but the damage was done. Here was an industry luminary, speaking at a prestigious association’s annual conference, yet he felt free to
use that language on a public stage.
Imagine how the women in the audience must have felt after that bombshell
dropped. Imagine how embarrassed many of the men, sympathetic to their
female coworkers’ challenges, must have felt. And we can’t help but wonder
who else has since felt free to mimic Zell’s tone, simply because he is Zell. (I
won’t even get into the trends we’ve been seeing in the broader public sphere
and current social and political climate).
Though I straddle the fields of CRE and media, I have also been subject to the
same issues many professional women face—more times than I can count.
Yet women in this space persevere and persist, spurred on with a determination to make a mark. They have a passion for the business and a desire to help
their companies succeed. They work at all hours, travel continuously and still
find the time to devote to volunteer projects and mentoring efforts.
This year we received close to 500 submissions for our various categories, a
record for us and an indication as well of the passion and pride these women
have about their careers, their companies and their coworkers. And many will
likely join me in saying that they hope there will come a time when these lists that
FORUM and its counterparts publish are no longer necessary. A time when women
have been fully accepted and integrated into a welcoming business community.
We hope so, too. In fact, we think that time will come sooner than many
expect and not just because of #Me Too. Men, as well, recognize the value
women offer to the industry and their contributions. Men account for 3%
of CREW Network’s membership; admittedly it’s not a high percentage but
CREW is hopeful that this will change. Likely it will, as stories and profiles
like the ones in these pages become more commonplace.
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