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Real Estate Alert: Culture a Key for Female Staffers

Women in the commercial real estate sector focus on compensation, location and workplace culture when searching for a new job.

That’s the finding of a survey of 400 women, ranging from entry-level staffers to senior managers, that was conducted jointly by two search firms — RETS Associates of Newport Beach, Calif., and Gillham, Golbeck & Associates of Dallas.

The inaugural survey was undertaken because real estate firms want to step up their efforts to recruit and retain female employees, said Rick Gillham of Gillham Golbeck. He noted that women are obtaining degrees in higher education and entering the workforce at a higher rate than males are. If companies aren’t making a concerted effort to recruit female candidates, “they are going to have a very small group to pick from,” Gillham said.

While women already make up roughly half of all professionals in commercial real estate, they are concentrated in “contractual” positions, such as property management and corporate services. In transaction-oriented jobs, including investments, brokerage and development, women hold 20% or less of the positions, according to Jana Turner of RETS. She said companies are especially interested in expanding the presence of women in those jobs.

Respondents were asked to rank their priorities when considering new posts. While compensation ranked first, the sponsors highlighted that workplace culture was almost on par with a position’s location as the next-highest priority.

Workplace culture encompasses a range of factors, including the working environment, the availability of flexible hours and clear paths for development and advancement.

“Candidates are really scrutinizing the environment before they leap,” Turner said. “Companies really have to look very hard internally to create an environment that is more inclusive.”

RETS and Gillham Golbeck plan to conduct the survey annually. It’s called the “Women in Commercial Real Estate Recruiting and Retention Study.”