In 2017, CREW Network (Commercial Real Estate Women) released a White Paper called “Diversity: The Business Advantage.” The paper presented case studies profiling 10 commercial real estate industry employers for employee programs, representation of women employees, network and interest groups, mentoring and sponsorship programs and flexible work arrangements. The paper also summarized research done by other top organizations in business performance as it relates to gender inclusion and highlighted some surprising and fascinating results. The full paper is attached here, but some items of particular interest include:

  • In 2017, Nordea Bank AB analyzed nearly 11,000 publicly traded companies between 2008 and 2016. The results showed that companies with a female CEO or chairperson of the board of directors averaged a 25% annualized return. This was more than double the 11% average return of the MSCI World Index, a global benchmark that represents equity performance across 23 developed markets. The takeaway? “If you invested in a company with a woman at the helm, you would have outperformed the market,” commented Robert Naess, Nordea portfolio manager.
  • When Fortune 500 Companies were ranked by the number of women directors on their boards, those in the highest quartile in 2009 reported a 42% greater return on sales and a 53% higher return on equity.
  • Credit Suisse studied 50% Club companies (organizations where women account for 50% or more of senior management) and found that these companies have outperformed less gender-equal firms each year since 2009. Average sales growth was 8% per year versus an actual slowdown at other companies.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a global study and found that more than half (56%) of women reported that they researched whether or not an organization had made progress in gender diversity when deciding where to work. And 61% of them took note of the diversity of an employer’s leadership team as well. In today’s challenging recruitment environment, gender diversity gives companies an edge in finding top talent.

The report highlighted challenges still faced by women in the professional world, and commercial real estate in particular as well. There are great strides to be made in closing the equality gap, and these are even more pronounced for women of color, but the good news is that companies are paying attention and seeing results in their profits. Some best practices that the report identified include:

  • Gender equity and diversity start at the very top of your organization. Leaders and stakeholders must be invested and involved to be successful
  • Diversity efforts should be written and visible to all employees. Objectives should be included on every executive and board meeting agenda to keep them top of mind.
  • Accountability is key. Success must be measured and lack thereof must be addressed.
  • Be honest about unconscious biases in all facets of business practices. Take action to overcome any discovered.
  • Evaluate your recruiting process. Is recruitment done more by networking or formal application processes? Are diverse hiring pools required?

The full report is substantive and eye-opening on these topics. The good news is that efforts toward gender diversity and inclusion mean more success for everyone in business—from employees, company leadership, clients and investors.

Valbridge has recently launched a national organization called the Valbridge Women’s Council, whose goal it is to “provide a platform for the growth and development of Valbridge Property Advisor’s professional women through mentoring and education, national recognition, networking opportunities and other resources that provide opportunities for advancement and self-improvement. Our vision is to empower VPA professional women for advancement, growth and development of in all facets of life.” With women at all levels of the profession, from Chair of the Board of Directors to Senior Managing Directors to Appraisers and support staff, Valbridge is well positioned to serve our clients in the diverse and innovative new economy.