The Major Challenges Faced by Women in the Commercial Real-Estate Industry

A whopping 87.2 percent of women say that the biggest challenge in the commercial real-estate industry is equal pay, according to a recent study by commercial real-estate recruitment and staffing firm RETS Associates.

The study is based on a survey of 618 women in entry- to senior-level positions about their feelings towards gender equality in the industry in 2018. Sixty-five percent of survey participants said they were made aware of being paid less than a male counterpart at some point in their career, and furthermore, 75 percent of these women said it happened two or more times. Following equal pay, a lack of promotion opportunities (79.2 percent) and feelings that their opinions are not as valued as their male counterparts (79.1 percent) were the other top concerns of women in this industry. But there is a sense of optimism throughout the commercial real estate field.

“The days of commercial real estate being an ‘old boys club’ are over,” said Jana Turn, principal at RETS Associates, in a press release. “Women are more empowered than ever before to stand up to discrimination, but change must come from the top and currently there aren’t enough women in leadership positions.”

When it comes to getting a new job or being promoted, 61 percent of participants said they felt they were passed over for a new job, assignment or listing because of their gender — and 82 percent said it happened more than once. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to speak up when facing tough challenges such as these, and a majority of women don’t. According to the study, nearly two-thirds did not take action after being bypassed for a job due to fears of losing future opportunities, poor treatment from leadership and damage to their reputations. Of the remaining women who did try to take action, only 28 percent actually brought up the issue with HR while others just looked for other jobs or even resigned.

Whether unconscious or conscious, gender biases must be brought to the forefront and that’s especially true for a major industry such as commercial real estate. In 2017 alone, commercial real estate accounted for 7.6 million jobs in the U.S., contributing $935 billion to the economy, according to RETS.

“What leaders in commercial real estate and all industries need to understand is that gender equality means economic growth,” Turner says. “The way in which we treat women in the workplace is a key component to boosting not only our own industry’s success, but our entire economy. When women do well, we all do well.