NEWPORT BEACH, CA—A flexible workplace that measures productivity rather than work time enables women to reach their full potential, Jana Turner, a principal with locally based commercial real estate recruitment firm RETS Associates, and Rick Gillham, president of executive-search firm Gillham, Golbeck & Associates in Dallas, tell GlobeSt.com. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week in Part 1 of this two-part story, the two firms recently collaborated on a “Women in Commercial Real Estate Recruiting and Retention Study” that revealed shifting priorities for women when considering a new job. The latest released results of the survey show that women are prioritizing workplace culture (placing it equal to location and just below compensation) when considering a job change. In Part 2, below, Turner and Gillham discuss how firms can ensure they have a workplace culture that continues to support women and what the future holds for women in CRE.
GlobeSt.com: How do firms ensure that a workplace that supports women will continue? Should there be specific staff members in charge of this?
Turner: It starts from the top, quite frankly. You have to walk the walk. If you’re relegating it down to a lower level, employees are not going to have buy-in or support, and it will fail. I know one public-health company that hired a talent and diversity leader. We’re doing a lot of research to find out what matches with each group. With smaller companies, it can be easier to maintain the culture because there’s day-to-day interaction among all staff members and there can be more conversation about diversity. They can be more nimble, and there are not a lot of rules, regulations and policies. So I think what we’re talking about applies to small firms, too.
GlobeSt.com: What do you predict will be the next step in furthering women to higher-level CRE career positions?
Gillham: I don’t think there is a bias now toward having women in high-level positions. There used to be, but not anymore. The industry as a whole has not done a good job from the ground up with being purposeful in recruiting women out of college. They’re dealing with a talent-pool shortage rather than a bias toward them being in more senior roles.
Turner: I keep going back to the flexibility issue. The location of the position and the hours required of the position need to be flexible. The more flexibility you can provide employees, the less stress they feel and the more productive they can become. It’s more about counting results than hours and location.
Gillham: There’s a huge generational component to that as well. There needs to be more conversation about quality-of-life issues—not just from women, but from men, too.
Turner: The husband of one of our recruiters got relocated to Seattle, so we opened an office in Seattle, and she’s working up there by herself. She’s thrilled and is maintaining her performance—her production is three times what it was here. She’s working from home part time vs. in an office surrounded with people, and she realized that this was the environment in which she works best. A lot of candidates say they currently work from home Tuesdays and Thursdays, and they ask if they will be able to do that with this new position. Benefit size becomes important for women, and also vacation time. They need three weeks.
Gillham: Especially when making a move from a place where they’ve built up more than two weeks.
Turner: We are seeing some progress in that direction. I just hope the diversity hiring continues. It employers the company and makes their intellectual capital so much greater. They have to make the culture and environment the right one for that workforce because it will change again in another 10 years.
Gillham: If companies want to survive, they’ll have to address these issues.