Report Urges More Women in Leadership

October 12, 2015

The Urban Land Institute has issued a new report calling on greater “gender balance” among leadership positions in the real estate industry and recommends strategies to help women advance to executive-level positions within the industry.

A recent ULI survey shows that 14 percent of companies are currently led by a female chief executive officer. Also, the report notes that of the limited number of women holding the top position within their organization, 93 percent ran small companies with less than 100 employees, according to ULI’s survey of 1,234 female members and based on focus groups. However, 62 percent of respondents say they aspire to hold C-level leadership positions at some point in their career.

The survey found that some women in larger organizations say they are frustrated with trying to obtain a leadership position and have gone out on their own, setting up their own businesses. About one-quarter of female real estate chief executive officers in the survey were practicing as sole proprietors.

“The survey is a great roadmap of strategies that work,” says Wendy Rowden, chair of ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative. “There are a number of concrete steps that organizations can take to enable women to rise to senior positions. These include accelerating learning through job assignments, creating the right culture, and adopting a talent mindset. And it all starts with the person in the corner office being committed to making this happen.”

The Urban Land Institute offers the following six recommendations for organizations to improve gender balance in the real estate industry:

  1. Accelerate learning through job assignments: Organizations should consider diversity when deciding who should lead high profile assignments and fill open positions. Coaching should be provided to those who take on new roles to promote learning. Companies should seek a diverse pool of talent to sponsor and mentor.
  2. Create the culture: The research demonstrates women who place a high priority on an inclusive culture also value strong internal and external networks, objective promotion, and hiring policies/practices.
  3. Adopt a talent mindset: Regularly engage in talent conversations to identify a diverse pool of high-potential employees and agree on strategies to mentor and challenge.
  4. Offer workplace flexibility for men and women: Flexible hours are seen as a proxy for a trusting environment. Provide family leave for men and women and a culture that supports both genders in being involved in their lives outside of work. This is especially important for Gen X and millennial employees.
  5. Make mentoring and sponsorship of women a priority: One benefit of robust internal networks is receiving both mentorship (a sounding board and advice from someone who is not the direct supervisor) and sponsorship (advocating on the woman’s behalf to other senior leaders or in arenas where she cannot represent herself).
  6. Invest in training to drive change: Support success on challenging work assignments by providing relevant training that includes men and women. Leverage training and development activities to create a strong network of relationships within the organization that carries the inclusive culture.

View the full report from the Urban Land Institute.

Source: Urban Land Institute