Real estate, like most industries, has seen a profound change in women’s roles over the last few decades. Once, women were relegated to office and clerical roles. Then, in the 1880s, a seminal change in attitudes allowed women to become agents and brokers. Today, women own brokerages and operate in all facets of this profession. In fact, most residential real estate agents are female. However, the commercial real estate market still seems to be an old-boy network, and it has been hard for women to elbow their way past initial resistance.
Trying to break down the barriers to female equality in the commercial real estate industry is Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) founded in 1989. The organization has over 8,000 members representing 74 major North American markets. Some members are active in both residential as well as commercial real estate. So, if you are looking at, say, San Diego homes for sale, it is not unlikely that your agent could be a member of CREW.
The mission statement of CREW is to “influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women.” It does this by focusing on leadership development, business development, career outreach and industry research. CREW publishes authoritative white papers about the commercial real estate industry that examine the front, back and sides of relevant issues. It also performs important studies and surveys that finger the obstacles to feminine success in the industry. Members can receive forward-looking leadership training from the organization.
CREW has a national recognition program that lets women get a leg up on the competition by acknowledging extraordinary achievement. In addition, CREW arms young women with scholarships and financial aid to train the next generation of female real estate leadership. The university outreach initiative, UCREW and the high school CREW Careers program are other examples of how CREW faces the future requirements of the industry.
Another way CREW helps women shoulder the challenge of upward career movement is through its eMentoring program. They have discovered that mentored women are 20 percent more likely to receive promotions. CREW offers a range of products and services that allow women to stay abreast of the latest industry news and trends. When a woman joins CREW, you know she is not just giving lip-service to the professional ideals of the organization. Ultimately, seasoned CREW members can participate in the governance of the organization by becoming CREW Foundation trustees. A trustee has increased public exposure, acquires advanced leadership skills, and sharpens her strategic thinking. Any woman eyeing a career in commercial real estate would be well advised to become a CREW member.