How women real estate workers survived the pandemic – commercial commentator

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Despite all the changes over the past year, little has changed for women in commercial real estate. This is despite the verbal commitment of leading companies and trade groups to gender equality and the fact that most of the new hires to the industry last year were women.

Instead, women, in particular working mothers, say they continue to face serious problems and choices not made by their male counterparts

The pandemic has displaced millions of American women from work, and commercial real estate is no exception. Some women in this industry have lost their jobs due to layoffs, while others have left because they struggled to find a balance between demanding work and caring for children or elderly parents.

“Women were disproportionately affected in commercial real estate as they affected the whole of society during the pandemic,” said Wendy Mann, executive director of the Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network (CREW), a 32-year-old professional networking and advocacy group. … … “They became a teacher, mother, guardian.”

While no person, company, or organization has collected data on women leaving the commercial real estate industry, Mann said several corporate leaders told her they had lost female employees who were struggling with work-life balance and childcare. time of a pandemic. She added that commercial real estate companies will continue to drain women if they do not allow hybrid jobs and flexible working hours.

“Companies now see that they will lose their talent if they do not create an environment that is flexible and supports the needs of the whole person,” said Mann.

It was 1.8 million fewer women The headcount is higher in May than it was in February 2020 before COVID, according to Bloomberg. Finding child care remains a challenge for many women because daycare is becoming more expensive and harder to find than it was before the pandemic.

BUT recent poll Care.com found that 72 percent of families say childcare has become more expensive during the pandemic, while 42 percent say it has become harder to find as many kindergartens closed during the pandemic, sometimes permanently …

Tina Chen, CEO of Time’s Up, a charity that supports survivors of sexual harassment, told NPR last month that childcare neglect became so acute during the pandemic that her organization convinced 200 companies, including Google, McDonald’s, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, Uber and PayPal, to sign a childcare council for their employees.

“Fifty percent of the country’s population before the pandemic lived in the desert for childcare,” Chen said in an interview with the publication. “And then during the pandemic, childcare businesses closed. We do not have enough educators to hire them in this country because we have never invested in educators as a workforce. “

She added that “as a country, we cannot have a sustainable economy if we do not have everyone who can participate, including women. And for that, we really, for the first time, now have to invest as a nation in a care infrastructure that supports all workers. ”

During a Commercial Observer event in late June, Rebecca Rocky, global head of economic analysis and forecasting at Cushman & Wakefield, said that during the pandemic, women not only no longer quit their jobs than men, they cut their working hours by more than 100 %. their male counterparts too. Rocky explained that the labor force participation of women with children has dropped by 3.5 percentage points over the past 14 months because mothers typically do three hours of additional unpaid household chores each day, such as childcare or household chores.

Carly Tripp, chief investment officer at Nuveen Real Estate, said women still face many of the same cultural challenges in male-dominated industries that they faced before the pandemic.

“Women start to leave when they have children, or they start turning their heads, and they get a slightly different experience in the financial industry than their friends in more women-friendly industries,” explained Tripp. “So you either lose them in another industry or you lose them because they have children.”

Her own executive assistant, a single mother, quit smoking during the pandemic to focus on raising and educating her children.

“I really didn’t want her to leave, and I really wanted to collaborate with her, but in the end, her priority was her children,” Tripp said. “There is a large deferred demand for female workers, so [normalize] and the children are back to school, we will see the women return to work. “

Tripp recalled that 20 years ago, when she graduated from college, she was the only female analyst at a real estate financial firm. However, she noted that the composition of the real estate industry is starting to change, with 60 percent of new hires to the industry last year were women.

“We still need to make progress at the middle levels of government,” said Tripp. “We need to ensure the creation of an inclusive culture.”

She added that she is trying to remind her male employees that they should invite their female colleagues to meetings or lunch after work.

“What I am impressive about the team is that I am just attentive. Are you leaving a woman outside of happy hour for your boys? And, if so, invite them along. Because that’s the only way to start influencing change and building relationships. “

Commercial real estate firms in general and their management should prioritize supporting working women – especially those with families – if they believe in their commitment to diversity, CREW’s Mann said.

“Companies are sensitive to the lack of diversity in real estate, and the loss of women will only contribute to this,” she said. “And I think they want to keep women in their workforce by creating opportunities for women and cutting time for more professional opportunities.”

Mann noted that women can take care of other family members as well. “Especially people in the workforce who are in leadership positions – they care for aging parents and people with special needs in their families. These are conditions that we must be aware of and take into account. “

There is another way the industry can support their female workforce, and that’s what the pandemic has highlighted in red.

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s Rocky, hybrid work benefits women even more than men because they do more unpaid work at home, but still crave the early-career mentoring that people get in the office.

“Hybrid is really where people get the best experience, and it benefits women disproportionately,” she explained. “Office work is essential – building trust and connection – for young employees, especially young women; developing these networks and mentoring is very important. “

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