The Leader Magazine

JUN 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 9 of 51

10 JUNE 2019 th E l E ad E r F E A T U R E A R T I C L E by Megan Bissell, Josh Packard and Jessica Pettitt The power of Some hard truths are revealed about corporate real estate's culture A t the Global Summit in Boston last fall, CoreNet Global hosted a conversation on its main stage with Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, and Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter who exposed the behavior of Harvey Weinstein and others. One of us, Josh Packard, had the distinct privilege of moderating that conversation. It was an honor to be on the stage with them, but, more than that, it was powerful for us to hear the voices of CoreNet Global members before and after the session. Those exchanges made it such an important experience. These conversations convince us that the people in corporate real estate (CRE) have an important role to play in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, not only in your own teams and units but in the larger companies where you are embedded. The professionals who were kind and brave enough to speak with us taught us three big lessons with regard to gender equity and diversity, lessons that also resonate with the work that we do at Inclusive Solutions, a DEI change-management firm. Change is coming; change is here First, the face of CRE is changing quickly, but the culture of CRE needs to catch up. Looking out into the audience from that main stage in Boston, Josh noticed a much more diverse crowd than what our group had been led to believe would exist. Particularly with regard to gender, the field is increasingly losing the homogeneity that has characterized it for so long. This mirrors broader social trends. Women have outpaced men in obtaining master's degrees for nearly 40 years and, as of 2017, women outpaced men in earning master's degrees over two-to-one. Women earn over three- fourths of all professional and doctoral degrees. In other words, it should come as no surprise that the most talented, well-educated and prepared workforce is increasingly dominated by women. 1 However, in our conversations with CRE professionals, it was clear that the culture of the profession is lagging behind. We heard numerous stories of both explicit and implicit harassment, discrimination and, perhaps most pervasively, a general attitude that DEI efforts were not really the responsibility of the CRE professional. Melinda 2 , an executive with nearly two decades of experience in the field working for several corporations, shared with us a particularly salient example of how women, particularly women of color, often get pigeonholed into positions that make advancement difficult. "As this field becomes less about contracts and price per square foot and more about workplace experience, it takes the day-to-day further outside of the expertise of the old-guard who are mostly white men. (White men) lean more and more on their team to handle the workplace- experience stuff that we're increasingly responsible for," she said. "I've seen it so many times that new hires get all of this very difficult work piled on top of them that isn't measured, evaluated or respected by their male peers and then, when it comes time for promotion, their bosses wonder what they've been doing or claim that they don't have the technical experience needed." Melinda continued, "It's frustrating because the entire industry is moving toward a comprehensive, workplace- experience strategy, not just brokerage, but there is a mismatch between who is doing that work and how it is rewarded and viewed." This kind of lag in the midst of an industry shift is not uncommon. Nursing, higher education and the legal world have all undergone similar adjustments in recent years, often dealing with difficult culture changes of their own. The time has come for corporate real estate to make its own adjustments to recognize the efforts, skills and work that are truly pushing the profession forward and to make sure that the people responsible for that work are rewarded. o pportunity costs are real The second big lesson we learned was just how damaging unchecked discrimination can be from a talent- management standpoint. When we interviewed CRE women about their experiences in the past and now, the thing that stood out the most to us is that there is tremendous opportunity cost.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Leader Magazine - JUN 2019