Subsequent publications from CREW indicate 65 per cent of employees have experienced or witnessed gender bias against females in their commercial real estate workplace in the last five years (2011-2016), while 55 per cent of employees have experienced or witnessed gender bias against females outside of the physical workplace.
I recently celebrated my 10 years in the industry and with Colliers International. Upon reaching this milestone, I reflected on my journey, acknowledging my challenges and accomplishments, and the relationships I’ve forged along the way.
The industry and our company have evolved in the last decade – and there is still much opportunity to foster a truly diverse and inclusive workforce. Since CREW network’s benchmark report was released five years ago, circumstances remain largely unchanged in commercial real estate with regard to gender equity.
The early days
I joined Colliers as National Director of IT. A woman foraying into an industry with an “old school” composition and very few female leaders, I was ready to question status quo as I was used to more diverse workforces in my previous roles.
Adding more challenge, my first objective was to implement a company-wide system, which involved convincing our professionals to not only trade in their Rolodexes for a web-based tool, but also share the contents of said Rolodexes.
I met resistance. I experienced bias: I wasn’t heard. I’d present an idea without it landing. I learned to embrace the challenge and found allies.
I persevered, determined to deliver a robust product, advance IT within the business – and break through the barriers. And I hoped that circumstances would change: It would only be a matter of time before a shift occurred that would see gender equity and women not having to fight so hard for their rightful place.
Success, and breakthroughs
I also experienced bright spots: accolades for a breakthrough project, words of encouragement from colleagues who recognized my contributions, a fellow female professional making her mark in the business, to name a few.
My resolve for the next few years resulted in the creation and deployment of a robust CRM and globally aligned intranet, both of which continue to play a big part in our professionals’ day-to-day work and business pursuits.
I was ready for more. Fuelled by my desire to work more closely with people to drive change, I took on the position of vice president of operations for Western Canada. Two years later, I became senior vice president of operations for Canada.
During my tenure as head of brokerage operations, I have helped nearly double Colliers’ brokerage business – and been able to advocate for diversity and inclusion.
Knowing first-hand the impact of not having “a seat at the table”, I ensure individuals from various teams and with a range of expertise participate in conversations, initiatives and decision-making. When differing minds and opinions converge, it makes for richer dialogue and more creative solutions, not to mention a better experience for employees and clients.
I mentor female professionals within Colliers, using my knowledge and experiences to help them navigate the industry and company, and set and steer their own paths to professional success.
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