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The Glass Ceiling Is 'More Like A Concrete Structure' For Women To Break Through

The barrier standing in the way of women advancing professionally is commonly referred to as a glass ceiling because women can see beyond it, but must shatter something to get there.

Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo takes a bit of an issue with the common metaphor.

"I believe it's more like a concrete structure," she said.

Networking at Bisnow's Women Leading Real Estate event in London

For 22 years, Taddeo has run a translation business, LanguageSpeak, from Miami. She has five to 10 people in the office and translators all over the world who speak 240 languages. In recent years, she ran for Congress and for lieutenant governor, losing both times, but won a state Senate seat in 2017.

Taddeo, who will be honored at Bisnow's South Florida Power Women event July 11, said her experience in business gave her the thick skin necessary for politics.

"We are starting to see, with more women being activists, a bit of an earthquake happening, and there's all kinds of cracks happening to that [concrete ceiling]," she said. "Which is really good because, frankly, it's definitely harder in the business world. And multiply that by a hundred in the political world. Being a businesswoman and an entrepreneur, in an area that's very male-oriented. It really prepared me."  

Most of Taddeo's involvement with commercial real estate has been from a legislative perspective. This year, when a bill came up proposing three new toll roads through the state, she was worried about the environment, she said but also felt that if the highways were going to come to fruition, they would have to serve all kinds of people.

Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo

"I specifically asked for $10M towards transportation of the elderly," she said. "So that's in there. That was my ask in the bill."

Taddeo said she also advocated for a board that would advise where the roads go, which will include representatives from environmental groups.

Concerned with climate change, she also wrote a bill ensuring that homeowners who are buying or renewing an insurance policy be told explicitly whether it includes flood coverage or if they would need a separate policy. 

At the Bisnow event, Taddeo will be joined by Goldman Properties CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick, Tribe Co-Work co-founder Felecia Hatcher, Merrimac Ventures Chairwoman Romola Motwani, Virgin Hotels Head of Development & Acquisitions Allie Hope, JLL Managing Director Barbara Liberatore Black, Centennial Bank's Broward County Market President Heather Zatik and more.

Miller Construction Co. Senior VP for Business Development Traci Miller

Traci Miller​ is the senior vice president of business development at Miller Construction Co. It was founded by her father and uncle 45 years ago, but Traci had to start from the bottom, working full days like other employees, and getting paid at the same rate as they were.

"I don't get promoted because my last name is Miller," she said. To become a shareholder, "I had to buy in at the same rate per share and purchase it with real cash."

She said the experience gave her a strong work ethic and ended up being a blessing. One of the best lessons she has learned as a woman in commercial real estate is, when frustrated, to get out of her own head and remind herself of what she's done right.

"If you're not up to task, get there — take a new course, get a new certification," she said. "Always make sure people you work with and for know what your goals are. If your goal is [to] run the commercial lending department at your bank, keeping that in your brain and working your tail off isn't going to do it. Go to your superior, and maybe their superior, and let them know. Then, they are looking for that opportunity for you. They will be your advocate."

Now, after 25 years with the company, her main focus is on finding new clients for the company. But she still doesn't let herself slack.

"Sometimes I'm working at 11 o'clock at night," she said.

Learn more about how July 11 at Bisnow's South Florida Power Women event at the InterContinental Miami