Republished with permission from Dallas Business Journal.
In the past few decades, the quest for professional diversity has become a major focus in virtually every industry, and commercial real estate is no exception. As we have seen in countless studies, surveys, and polls, diversity can draw attention to a wonderful mix of attributes and qualities in the workplace and help businesses succeed. But diversity should only enhance a company or an entire sector’s overall expertise- not define it. When diversity is simply viewed through a lens of percentages and statistics it can quickly be reduced to a matter of discrepancy. When that happens, we are losing face on the strengths and capabilities it can provide, and the hard work needed to achieve true success.
Historically, commercial real estate, and industrial real estate in particular, has been a male-driven business. However, like many other industries in recent years, a few markets are starting to see a shift to include more women. Not surprisingly, this evolution has allowed for a welcome increase in new viewpoints and perspectives, and a unique outlook on the business, as a whole. As a result, clients are treated to fresh ideas and new ways to approach challenges and opportunities alike.
As more companies hire diverse talent, associations like SIOR continue to work diligently to help inspire more women to explore the world of commercial real estate. SIOR also encourages women to work toward getting the prestigious SIOR designation, thus opening new doors for greater opportunities and networking. I became a member in 2018 and it has been a terrific professional asset, while also putting me in a position to help other female brokers achieve their own goals.
Recently, I spoke to many of these women SIORs to gain perspective on their accomplishments within the industry and they all echoed the same sentiment: diversity, combined with hard work, creates opportunity, but it is hard work alone that delivers success. When I asked how they began their career in the industrial sector, some of these women “fell into it” while others specifically sought it out. But regardless of how they got into the industry, each of them has worked tirelessly to become a driving force in their market, and in working with them, they have provided me with a unique perspective that has fueled further relationships. They each see themselves as peers and do not dwell on the lack of women in commercial real estate. Instead, they use their viewpoints as women as a positive asset to better represent their clients. One stated it well, saying “It is not the time to separate us as being different. It is the time to partner and realize the difference of assets and qualities can create better leverage for the client.” Regardless of whether they are a man or woman, for the best brokers, the client always comes first.
Still, the lasting question remains: how can we get more women brokers in the industry to help move the needle, when the candidates are still mostly men? There is no easy answer, but when I consider my own experiences, and the diverse experiences of my fellow female SIORs, it’s clear that each of us has an obligation to utilize our own success to help inspire, educate, mentor, and support the next generation of women. The industrial sector is filled with opportunities to succeed, and in the process, make the sector as a whole stronger, more diverse, and more resilient. We have helped pave the way for tomorrow’s female brokers. Now we can help open the doors to create new opportunities.