As for diversity, commercial real estate companies still lagging behind

Women are finding more opportunities in commercial real estate as their networking organizations strengthen.

Women have been making great strides in the business and residential real estate worlds, but when it comes to commercial real estate construction companies, there is still work to be done. 

The National Real Estate Investor reported data compiled by Elaine Andersson, publisher of the Commercial Real Estate Diversity Report, that revealed 90 percent of the commercial construction sector senior executives were male. Not only is there a large gender disparity, but approximately 91.8 percent of those top executives were white, which suggests that minorities as well as women are being left out of the commercial real estate industry. 

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, African American women made up 0.4 percent of senior executives, with African American men composing 1.6 percent. Hispanic men, on the other hand, accounted for 3.7 percent. Looking at the commercial real estate industry as a whole – women compose 14.1 percent of senior executives. White men make up 77.6 percent, according to Andersson.

"The brokerage industry was the first to reflect [diversity], both in leasing and sales, particularly for agents who work in the city," Jon DeVries, director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University, told NREI. "We've also seen the real estate banking industry pretty aggressively recruit minorities. Having said all of that, I would say that [commercial real estate] is an industry that has a long, long way to go to reflect the changes that immigration has brought to the country as well as the rising influence and affluence of women and minorities. The institutional side is just catching up to a lot of that."

Women start to network
In response to the disparity of men to women, women professionals got together and formed the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network Foundation. One of the initiatives of CREW is supporting prospective women real estate professionals. The CREW Scholarship Program, currently in its sixth year, awarded seven undergraduate students and three graduate students a total of $50,000 in scholarships recently. 

"CREW Network advances the success of women in commercial real estate at all career stages," said Gail Ayers, CEO of CREW Network. "Our annual scholarship program is an example of making commercial real estate more diverse by encouraging young women to pursue careers in the industry. We also provide mentoring and career training for women at all levels, including those who are approaching the C-Suite level in our industry."

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