Helping women achieve professional success and advance in their careers is an important initiative at PECO and something I believe is critical to our future. At Phillips Edison & Company (PECO), we support this idea through our PECO NOW (Networking Opportunity for Women) program, an associate-led initiative designed to recruit, retain and develop women in leadership positions.
Participation in the PECO NOW initiative has been outstanding and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants frequently share anecdotes about contacts they made or skills they acquired as a result of their time at PECO NOW events, these experiences are invaluable to the development of our future female leaders. It is my hope that these efforts, and the professionals who are benefiting from them, will not only benefit Phillips Edison, but also have an impact on the commercial real estate industry by helping to elevate the role of women.
Historically, the commercial real estate industry has been male-dominated even though several studies show that diversity in the workforce and in the decision process leads to greater success for our organizations. In fact, a recent study released by the Peterson Institute for International Economics concluded that a 30 percent increase in the number of women at a company was attributable to a 15 percent rise in profitability. So if diversity is working, where does the commercial real estate industry stand on capitalizing on that increased profitability through the advancement of women?
The CREW Network, an organization dedicated to progressing women in commercial real estate, has measured this progress over the past 10 years. Their recently released third installment of the study had some promising findings:
- Women in commercial real estate are more satisfied with their career success and closer than ever to the C-suite.
- More women fill senior vice president, managing director and partner positions than ever.
- The percentage of women with direct reports is now on par with their male counterparts.
Laurie Baker, President of CREW and the Senior Vice President of Fund and Asset Management for Camden Property Trust, which was recently named as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women, encourages companies to develop systems to ensure that executive leaders are more thoughtful with how they fill and address executive level positions and board seats. I agree with her and think it is incumbent on those of us currently in leadership roles to find ways to fix the problem. And it’s not just commercial real estate.
Baker concluded her comments by saying, “We have to be honest about unconscious bias in our hiring, promoting, and assigning challenging projects and inclusion in high profile client relationships.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The PECO NOW initiative and the company’s ongoing and substantial investment in its programs are tangible outcomes of Phillips Edison’s dedication to providing exceptional opportunities for the growth and advancement of women.
Note, though, that our efforts on this front do not end at the Phillips Edison door. We embrace any opportunity to help other businesses and professional organizations implement similar programs and join in the push to support and elevate women in business. If you’d like more information on our goals, plans and outstanding results to date, or if I can help anyone looking to start similar programs at their own organizations, please contact me and I will do what I can to help.