Brokering Equality

33.8%.  This is the pay gap between male and female commercial real estate brokers according to a 2015 CREW Network Benchmark Study. That means, in dollars, a female broker earns $67,500 less per year than her male counterparts. The pay gap widens at the C-suite level, where the percentage of women has fallen from 10%-15% over the last 10 years.  These disparities exist across industries.  32% of trial lawyers are women, and just 24% of those women serve as lead counsel according to a 2015 American Bar Association study. Women make up just 17% of equity partners in law firms.     

Some have attributed these disparities to women being less likely to ask for a raise or a promotion. Recent studies reveal this assumption is unfounded. In September 2016, researchers at London’s Cass Business School, the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin found that women ask as often as men, but get what they want 25% less often.

What can be done to close this gap? It starts with mentoring and sponsorship. Women report the lack of a mentor/sponsor as the number one barrier to their success.  It only takes one good mentor to change the course of a person’s career.  If you are in the industry and know a promising woman in your profession, encourage her to seek advancement.  Educate her on compensation levels, opportunities, and networking.  Make mentorship/sponsorship a priority.  If you are in a leadership position, be honest about your gender bias.  Speak up when you see biases or unfair treatment.  Use independent assessment tools.  Sometimes the simplest steps make a big difference; such as interviewing a woman for every position or project. Finally, help spread the word.  Knowledge is power, as they say.  Shine a light on the problem and see what solutions appear.