CBRE Names Rija Beares First Female Market Leader For Philadelphia Region
The largest commercial brokerage firm in the Philadelphia region is now led by a woman for the first time.
On Wednesday, Rija Beares clocked her first day as CBRE Advisory Services Market Leader for Greater Philadelphia, succeeding Adam Mullen after he left the post in July. Her second-in-command will be Managing Director Diane Weinberg, with whom Beares worked at Insignia/ESG before it was acquired by CBRE in 2003.
“I have the benefit of walking into a strong, positive executive team that’s in place, which creates continuity," Beares told Bisnow. "It’s going to allow me time to stand back and see what we have, and then continue that success. I get to do this side by side with some fantastic people.”
Other major brokerages in the region have been led by women in the past, including Binswanger, Savills and Cushman & Wakefield, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. But by and large, women still face disadvantages in pay and opportunity for advancement in commercial real estate. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the issue, though its damaging effect on gender diversity in the workplace extended to every profession.
“CBRE is a company that really values and has been talking the talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, and they’re taking action in a meaningful way and showing that it’s ingrained in our culture," Beares said.
Philadelphia, long understood in the industry as a slow and steady market, also has been a slow mover relative to other major markets in terms of gender diversity, said Longfellow Real Estate Partners Managing Director of Research Lauren Gilchrist, who served as chapter president for industry organization NAIOP in 2019. Like Beares, she was a trailblazer as the first woman to lead the group in the region.
“I think Philadelphia has a little more work to do," Gilchrist told Bisnow. "From the industry perspective, Philly is where it is in terms of talent and female hiring based on where it’s been regionally from a growth perspective. In many ways, Philadelphia is just going to Philadelphia."
Despite the significance of Beares breaking another glass ceiling, gender diversity will not improve industry-wide without a massive effort to bring more women into commercial real estate to begin with, Gilchrist said.
"It’s a call to action that if we believe in diversity, believe that it’s the right thing to do, we need to create pathways into this industry," she said. "We need to start them really young, at the high school level, and continue that through college, and demonstrate that in hiring."
Now that this milestone has been reached, Beares is getting down to the business of running CBRE's Philly operation, which covers South Jersey, Northern Delaware and up to the Lehigh Valley, across virtually every property type. She plans to do that with a greater emphasis on empathy, or what she referred to as service leadership.
“With my clients and with my former team, I was always very service-oriented and put myself in everyone’s shoes to see how I could help them succeed," Beares said. "The way you can effect change and make a long-term impact is by creating trust and integrity in your relationships, and when people feel that trust and integrity with you, they’ll trust that you make good decisions and allow you to lead them.”