Growing up in a family of six kids, our summer vacations mainly consisted of road trips. I fondly remember us piling into the “woody” station wagon—you know, the one with the wood panels on the side and the “way back” seat facing the car behind you. The “way back” seat was always for the girls (three of us) and the boys (three of them) had to sit in the middle seat.
After driving maybe an hour, we’d begin asking the universal vacation question: are we there yet? Our desire to get to our vacation location as quickly as possible was vocalized repeatedly. It seemed like it was taking forever to get to the place where we knew we wanted to be. The place of nirvana, the perfect place for summer fun. “Are we there yet” was a mantra about arriving at a destination, at reaching the pinnacle and realizing our childhood dreams.
When I think about that phrase now, in the context of gender equity and pay parity in commercial real estate—and I think about it as reaching the destination—my response is a resounding no! We are not there. We are nowhere near reaching our goal that we have advocated for more than 30 years.
Is 30 years enough? Is it taking too long to get there… just like my childhood family vacation? My growing concern is that once a company has one woman in an executive position and perhaps one on its board of directors, the company’s leadership believes they are there… they have arrived at the destination and fulfilled the obligation. But working to advance women is not an obligation. It’s an opportunity. It’s a business imperative with a bottom line result.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the progress we have made, but understand that we are not there yet. Let’s not have one woman on the executive management team to check the box and move on to other diversity “issues.” Let’s not let our desire to reach the destination be dimmed by shortsightedness that one woman in leadership changes the paradigm.
This quote from actor Nicole Kidman struck me as an excellent point about our journey:
“Things don’t change overnight. We all know that, and it’s important to keep reiterating that, because what happens is people go, ‘Oh well, that’s done.’ This is serious stuff that needs to be dealt with for years and years to actually really shift it.”
Yes, we are celebrating 30 years of working to advance women in commercial real estate. No, we are definitely not there yet. And yes, this is me reiterating that we are not done. We have not arrived. Do not check the box and move on.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.