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CREW launches CRE Pledge for Action to advance women, DEI

The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network has launched the CRE Pledge for Action to advance...

CREW Network, CRE Pledge for Action, women, diversity, equity, inclusion, DEI

CREW Network has launched the CRE Pledge for Action to advance women and encourage DEI (Courtesy CREW).

The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network has launched the CRE Pledge for Action to advance women and encourage diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the commercial real estate industry.

Seventeen leading commercial real estate (CRE) CEOs have pledged to take action and hold themselves and their employees accountable for implementing initiatives to advance women and DEI.

“The CREW Network CRE Pledge for Action is a relevant, meaningful and actionable initiative that aligns well with the significant transformation currently underway globally,” said Wendy Mann, CREW Network CEO, in the announcement.

“CEOs from leading commercial real estate companies understand they must be proactive and quickly act to address this fundamental issue in the workplace.

“CREW Network applauds those who’ve joined with us already, and we encourage and urge more firms across the CRE industry to be a part of this ground-breaking initiative.”

The CRE Pledge for Action is an industry-first initiative. CEO signatories include both men and women from companies including Avison Young, BentallGreenOak, Colliers and RioCan REIT, which all have headquarters in Canada.

Toronto CREW network

CREW’s Toronto arm — which is celebrating its 25th anniversary — is also participating in the CRE Pledge for Action. The organization aims to empower women to “excel, influence and lead” in commercial real estate.

The network has 12,000 members in more than 75 major global markets — including Vancouver — and provides them with direct access to real estate professionals across all disciplines around the globe.

Toronto CREW’s industry initiatives include action on several fronts:

– business development:

– CREW organizes networking opportunities for its multi-disciplinary membership, including three leadership summits and the annual CREW Network Convention and Marketplace;

– members can access the CREWbiz technology platform — a membership directory, resource and referral centre, personal marketing tool and app;

– industry research: the network is a leading global researcher on women in commercial real estate. Its industry research produces annual white papers along with a benchmark study every five years to deliver data and action items to advance women’s real estate careers;

– leadership development: Creating leaders is crucial to advancing the commercial real estate industry. CREW provides high-level leadership development training and opportunities to serve on global boards and committees;

– career outreach: the network and its foundation create programs to educate women and girls about available career opportunities, support college-level commercial real estate education through scholarships, and provide mentorships to industry newcomers.

CREW’s CRE Pledge for Action

The pledge supports the advancement of women and other individuals in underrepresented groups, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, religion and age.

The signatories have committed to adopting the following goals:

– partner with CREW Network to advance women within the industry;

– close the compensation gap in the industry by conducting a pay equity study;

– increase inclusion through senior executive sponsorship of women and/or other individuals in underrepresented groups within companies;

– advance women to top roles to achieve gender diversity in leadership;

– increase diversity through recruiting and hiring of individuals from diverse backgrounds;

– implement accountability strategies to measure progress.

“These are intentional, meaningful and measurable goals that will have lasting impacts on the industry,” said Mann in the release. “By committing to this pledge, CEOs are taking the steps necessary to drive change, and demonstrating that leadership and accountability start at the top.

“For the commercial real estate industry to become gender balanced and more diverse, we need the hundreds of CEOs in this industry to commit to diversity.”

CREW’s gender and diversity research results

Research has shown having diverse teams and inclusive workplaces leads to stronger business outcomes.

The reality of commercial real estate, however, is that although the industry serves diverse populations, its workforce remains predominantly composed of Caucasian males. CREW’s research on gender and diversity indicates little progress has been made in the past five years.

Its July 2021 survey, A Catalyst for Change: COVID-19’s Impact on Women in Commercial Real Estate, reveals the pandemic’s impact on women in the industry around the world, particularly women of colour.

The study included 1,018 commercial real estate professionals across more than 25 specializations and more than 10 sectors in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Findings include:

– 78 per cent of women were forced to leave their positions;

– 54 per cent said they missed out on deals in 2020;

– 23 per cent said compensation decreased;

– 38 per cent believe the pandemic stalled progress for women;

– 14 per cent believe it levelled the playing field for women.

While half of the CRE professionals surveyed said their career priorities have changed as a result of the pandemic, nine out of 10 women said their personal priorities changed.

Hundreds of survey participants cited the immediate need for a better work-life balance, a stronger focus on self-care and mental health and more flexible work arrangements.

The CREW Network also conducted a 2020 study entitled, “Gender and Diversity in Commercial Real Estate”, conducted in partnership with the MIT Center for Real Estate. The survey found:

– women earn 10 per cent less than men in base salaries and 56 per cent less in commission and bonuses annually;

– average earnings (including salaries, bonuses and commission combined) across genders were 34 per cent lower, a gap which is nearly 11 per cent higher than 2015;

– women occupy 37 per cent of the industry — a statistic which has not changed significantly during the past 15 years;

– only 16 per cent of CRE workplaces have 25 per cent or more staff from diverse backgrounds.

Based on these results, the CREW Network is asking pledge signatories to take action to improve performance, drive growth and enhance employee engagement.

About Toronto CREW

Danny Klempfner founded Toronto CREW in 1996. Along with founding members Anne Morash, Francine Baker Sigal and Virginia Beauchamp, she invited high-ranking women in the commercial real estate industry to form Toronto CREW’s first board.

Today there are more than 260 members of Toronto CREW. The organization enables members to develop leadership skills while expanding their knowledge of the commercial real estate industry.

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