By Lee Eastwood, Eastwood Real Estate Services
It is a risk-reward situation. Brokers on straight commission are the ones who make the most money. Why don’t more women go into brokerage? According to the recent CREW report, 18% of CREW members were in brokerage in 2000. In 2015, 30% of our members are in brokerage. We are making progress, but are a long way to parity. According to CBRE, only 10% of brokers are women, and that includes tenant brokers, landlord brokers, and capital markets brokers, as well as some specialty brokers. (1)
There are several reasons these numbers are low:
- Lack of role models: Until there are more women who are very successful and visible in commercial real estate, it won’t change.
- Commission only: Millennials have more options today than in the last 7 years or so. Why assume the risk of a commissioned position in commercial real estate when you can get a good paying salary right out of college in another field?
- Successful brokers, male and female, are best served by using existing relationships to generate business. Men have capitalized successfully on this through relationships with male friends from private schools, colleges, fraternities, country club memberships, and family friends, who then become leaders in their respective fields. Needless to say, this is where male brokers historically have had the advantage. Since there are not as many women in decision-making positions, their sphere of influence through existing relationships is not as pronounced. Men are used to working with men, not women.
Just in Atlanta, the majority of corporations and organizations are still led by men, whether the head of Coca-Cola or the managing broker of a top law firm. More and more, these decision-makers are open to diversity in their real estate representation, but it is a relatively new shift in the industry that women now have greater opportunities to compete on a level playing field.
How can we, as women, do better? We all know that brokerage is where the big bucks are if you are successful. Lisa Dunavin, the only female who has run a big shop in Atlanta, has switched from landlord rep to tenant rep. She is doing this so she can both drive her own destiny and be a role model for women coming into the business. One way she intends to do this is to lead or become a senior partner on a tenant rep team.
Oftentimes, it is assumed a female broker on a team plays a supporting role. While there are already a few strong exceptions to this outdated image, the numbers are shockingly small at less than 1% of Atlanta brokers. Lisa hopes to push women forward in a meaningful way by being a worthy example. In addition, one helpful program is CREW’s mentorship and CREW University are educating women on specific positions in commercial real estate, giving them a greater opportunity to enter and succeed in this field upon graduation and beyond.
In summary, women in brokerage need to encourage, support, and mentor those coming behind us. I made the decision to start my own firm 12 years ago. My friends all said they admired my guts; I saw it as a great opportunity, not something to be fearful of. We need to get as much good press as possible to let people know women can be successful being women in CRE.
Lee Eastwood is a commercial real estate broker in Atlanta, Ga. Her firm, Eastwood Real Estate Services, LLC specializes in healthcare real estate. Lee was named four times by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as Who’s Who in Commercial Real Estate. She is a former President of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Atlanta and former board member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors. In October 2014 she was honored by BisNow as one of the Power Women in Commercial Real Estate in Atlanta. In 2016 she was awarded the coveted Hall of Fame designation by CREW Atlanta. In addition she is a former member of Grady Board of Visitors and former board member of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. She is currently on the Board of the Center for Black Women’s Wellness.
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