Phillips Edison Focuses on Women in Leadership

Published on February 28, 2018 in PECO News, PECO Culture, and Leadership & Development
Colleen Johnson
Colleen Johnson
Senior Vice President, Phillips Edison Grocery Center REITs 1 and 2

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Colleen Johnson, Senior Vice President, PECO NOW Co-Chair
Cherilyn Megill, CMO, PECO NOW Co-Chair
 
2017 was a powerful year for women’s voices. Women came forward telling their stories – not only of sexual harassment but of gender imbalances in their industries, disparity for advancement and failure to receive equal pay. While Hollywood made a huge impression, these voices were heard through many other industries, including the commercial real estate industry.
 
The #MeToo movement gave women power in numbers – through solidarity, women felt strong enough to speak up against harassment and discrimination. While the impact of these stories are in the headlines almost on a daily basis, one thing is clear – a paradigm shift is occurring. Women are breaking glass ceilings and demanding that the power and gender imbalances in the workplace be corrected.
 
A couple of weeks ago, at our company’s Annual Meeting, we did a presentation about PECO NOW (Networking Opportunity for Women) that included a video reminding our associates to ‘Speak Up’ if they experience any harassment issues. We also highlighted our 2017 results which included several successful networking opportunities, educational events and health-related activities. We were pleased to report that in 2017, there were 29 female promotions.
 
PECO NOW was formed over 4 years ago to ensure that our female associates had a voice and an opportunity for leadership roles. When we sat down recently to review our past results and activities, we concluded that we were trying to accomplish too many things. We needed to re-focus on why PECO NOW exists – to create more women leaders. Women need to have a seat at the table and PECO NOW was established to help make that happen.  When our female associates are tapped to take that seat, we want them to be ready, armed with the confidence, knowledge and skill set they need to succeed so that our company succeeds.  In this regard, we updated our Mission Statement to be more focused:
 
“To provide leadership opportunities to women at PECO through advocacy, support and development.”

Going forward, everything that we do must answer this one question:  “Will this help women either become a leader or be a better leader if she is already in a leadership role?”
 
We also established three focused committees: Advocacy, Support and Development.
 
Our Advocacy Committee will focus on harassment, including sexual harassment.  Our message is about maintaining the PECO culture and reminding everyone to SPEAK UP when they see someone not living up to PECO’s culture.
 
The Support Committee will continue its efforts on the 2017 initiative of helping new parents when they go on leave and return to the workforce. This committee will also tackle the issue of aging parents. We believe that if we can help women, even a little, with personal issues such as the stress of being a working mom and/or dealing with an aging parent, then that woman can be a better leader for PECO.
 
The third committee is the Development Committee.  This group will focus on developing our current and potential women leaders through education.  This will include speakers, training and collaborative learning, both internally and externally.
 
As co-chairs of PECO NOW, we are excited about these new initiatives and hope that similar programs are implemented at other commercial real estate companies.
 
Please reach out to either one of us if you would like more information about starting your own program.
Colleen Johnson
Colleen Johnson
Senior Vice President, Phillips Edison Grocery Center REITs 1 and 2