Jennifer Litwak Jennifer Litwak

Diversity is coming to commercial real estate. While more and more women are entering the industry, a lot say that they “fell into the business.” CREW San Diego wants to change that. The organization has launched a new program called Bring a Girl to CRE Day program, which will introduce girls to the industry at a young age. The goal is to give girls the option of choosing and preparing for the industry to ultimately promote diversity.

Commercial real estate is not something that young women learn about in school. In addition, there are so few women in high-profile, leadership roles in this industry,” Jennifer Litwak, CREW San Diego foundation delegate and executive director of Housing On Merit, tells GlobeSt.com. “Only 35% of CRE professionals are female and of that, only 9% hold C-suite positions. Women cannot aspire to something if they don’t know that it exists. CREW Network is at the forefront of achieving gender equity and greater diversity in the commercial real estate industry by transforming the industry by advancing women globally.”

At Bring a Girl to CRE Day, UCREW and Crew Careers initiatives connect students in San Diego universities, colleges and marginalized communities to the commercial real estate industry and provides hands-on experiences, scholarships and mentoring opportunities to introduce young women to intentional career paths. The goal of the program is to empower, educate and inspire a new generation of leaders while underscoring CREW’s mission. “I want to see young women come to the industry prepared to be experts in their areas of interest—as engineers, lawyers, architects, etc. I don’t want women to assume that they have to start their CRE careers in traditional lower-level marketing or business development positions,” says Litwak. “They should aspire to and attain C-Suite positions.”

The inaugural Bring a Girl to CRE Day in 2019, aligned with the CREW network’s 30th anniversary. The national event was a perfect time to launch the program and highlight the need to expand diversity efforts. “The 2019 Bring a Girl to CRE Day was a big success,” says Litwak. “Here in San Diego, Housing on Merit collaborated with JLL, JCJ Architecture and Cultura to host middle and high school girls, including a few soon-to-be first-generation college students from an affordable housing community Housing on Merit co-developed. The group was treated to a guided tour of our offices and participated in a Q&A with female industry professionals. It was a fun day for all.”