Why The Culture Of Finance Is More Inclusive For Women In Commercial Real Estate

Melissa Oyler, Bisnow National Reporter and Champaign Williams, Bisnow National Editor

15 Commercial Real Estate Finance Executives On How The Industry Is Closing The Gender Gap

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gain and again, women in commercial real estate have been pushed aside, ignored, discouraged, maligned or worse. In the midst of the global #MeToo movement, those struggles β€” namely equal pay, equal treatment and equal opportunity - have emphatically risen to the surface to force the industry to chart a new, more inclusive course. But change can take time.

Yet in one critical corner of real estate change has already begun: Women now account for an estimated 34% of all financial service positions in the commercial real estate industry. That makes it the second-largest specialization for women in the industry behind asset management - just ahead of development and brokerage services, according to the latest CREW survey.

That is far from equal, but given the truism that commercial real estate is male-dominated, real estate finance now represents one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors for women in all of commercial real estate β€” and that is because there is a more natural education path for women that leads to financial service positions.

"There is a multitude and variety of participants in the sector: lenders, loan servicers, underwriters, due-diligence providers, attorneys, accountants, appraisers," The Commercial Real Estate Finance Council Executive Director Lisa Pendergast told Bisnow. "Then consider the diverse business establishments and cultures from which they hail. It's the level of diversity in terms of roles and functions that leads to a culture that is far more embracing than a single-focused sector."

But there is still a long way to go.

"It comes down to the culture that you're creating and the inclusivity β€” are you engaging diversity throughout the organization and are you committing to inclusive behavior once you have a diverse staff?" CREW CEO Wendy Mann told Bisnow. β€œIt's one thing to bring diverse people of color and gender into the company, but if they still see that the environment they're working in is not embracing them as a diverse people, they won't stay and won't feel like it's a great place to work."

Bisnow spoke with 15 female executives who specialize in commercial real estate finance to better understand how they penetrated the market and what steps the industry is taking to diversify the ranks and create more opportunities for women entering the workforce.

Angelique Brunner
#1
Angelique Brunner
EB5 Capital founder and CEO, Washington, D.C. +
Alice Carr
#2
Alice Carr
JPMorgan Chase Head of Community Development Banking, Los Angeles +
Karen Case
#3
Karen Case
CIBC Bank USA Executive Managing Director and President of Commercial Real Estate, Chicago +
Marcia Diaz
#4
Marcia Diaz
PGIM Real Estate Finance Managing Director, Los Angeles +
Judy Guarino
#5
Judy Guarino
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Commercial Bank Commercial Mortgage Lending Group Northeast Regional/Chicago Manager, New York City +
Michelle Herrick
#6
Michelle Herrick
JPMorgan Market Manager-Midwest Real Estate Banking Manager, Chicago +
Karen Kulvin
#7
Karen Kulvin
Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors Managing Director of Real Estate Private Equity, New York +
Alina Mardesich
#8
Alina Mardesich
George Smith Partners Senior Vice President, Los Angeles +
Jillian Mariutti
#9
Jillian Mariutti
Mission Capital Group Director of Debt & Equity Finance Group, New York City +
Kara McShane
#10
Kara McShane
Wells Fargo Head of Commercial Real Estate Capital Markets and Finance, New York City +
Anita Paryani-Rice
#11
Anita Paryani-Rice
Institutional Property Advisors Senior Vice President Capital, Los Angeles +
Hilary Provinse
#12
Hilary Provinse
Berkadia Executive Vice President and Head of Mortgage Banking, Washington, D.C. +
Vicky Schiff
#13
Vicky Schiff
MREC Management, Managing Partner, Calabasas, California +
Robyn Sorid
#14
Robyn Sorid
G4 Capital Partners co-founder and Managing Principal, New York City +
Sondra Wenger
#15
Sondra Wenger
CIM Group Managing Director and First Vice President of Investments, Los Angeles +