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Report: Majority Of Women In CRE Face Pay Gap, Opportunity Discrimination And Sexual Harassment

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The biggest challenges women in commercial real estate face today are equal pay, lack of upward mobility and not feeling like they are part of the team, according to a new report by recruiting and staffing firm RETS Associates.

Woman laptop business diversity

More than half of the women surveyed reported they had been sexually harassed at some point in their career.

“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,” RETS Associates principal Jana Turner said in a news release. “We’re working to change that.”

Turner is a former executive of a Fortune 500 global CRE company.

The nationwide report surveyed 615 women ages 30 to 60 in entry- to senior-level positions. The survey comes as a groundswell of rallies, awareness campaigns and discussions surrounding women’s rights in different industries are becoming part of the public dialogue.

Some of the highlights of the survey, which was done earlier this year:

  • 87.2% of respondents said the biggest challenge facing women in CRE today is a need for equal pay, lack of promotion opportunities and feeling that female opinions aren’t as valued or respected as those of their male colleagues.
  • 65% of respondents said they were made aware of being paid less than a male counterpart at some point in their career.
  • 61% felt they were bypassed for a job, assignment or listing at some point in their career based on gender. Of those, 82% reported it happened more than once and 54% said it happened three or more times.
  • 63% did not take action after being bypassed for a job.
  • Of the 52% who reported they had been sexually harassed during their career, 84% reported being sexually harassed more than once and 41% reported being sexually harassed five or more times.
  • 76% of those harassed did not report the sexual harassment to human resources or management.
  • 10% of those that reported the harassment said the accused lost their job.
  • 34% that reported the harassment said no action was taken against the accused.
RETS Associates Principal Jana Turner
RETS Associates principal Jana Turner

Turner told Bisnow she was inspired by the women speaking out through the #MeToo movement about their sexual harassment, sexual assault and pay inequality experience.

She wanted to bring that to forefront of the commercial real estate industry.

“All of the media attention is focusing on the entertainment arena but here in CRE we have an industry for the most part that is male-dominated,” Turner said. “Being a female executive, I have experienced it myself during my career. I’ve just gotten frustrated. In the last five to seven years, women approached me about not being paid as much as their counterpart or lack of opportunity.

“I owed it to the industry to dig into this,” she said. “The timing and the era is right. Everyone is looking at this disparity.”

Turner said companies, especially large operators, need to continually conduct their own reports to “know where you are at and get better and put money where your mouth is. There needs to be a new bonus program and recruitment effort.

“This is a huge issue," she said. "Clients want it. Corporations have a social responsibility to push for more diversity. It’s a mantra. And it has to start at the top.”