Senior figureheads including BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley and Deloitte have joined forces to tackle gender equality in the commercial property sector – by signing up to an initiative spearheaded by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) UK.
The mentoring scheme has delivered over 700 mentoring hours in its third iteration so far – supporting more than 100 of the industry’s rising stars – within organisations such as AECOM, JLL, Citigroup, Greystar, Homes England and many more.
CREW UK connects some of the commercial real estate’s heavy hitters – such as Despina Katsikakis, executive partner at Cushman & Wakefield, Jennie Dorsaint, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Adina David, director at Greystar; and Mike Gedye, executive director of CBRE – in a bid to promote gender parity across all levels of the property sector.
The initiative is sorely needed after a 2020 CREW Network benchmark study found that 38% of respondents had no women in senior leadership positions within their companies. The mentoring scheme looks to help break down barriers to advancement and generate better representation, as well as provide vital networking opportunities.
Ginny Gibson, real estate programme lead at Reading University’s Henley School of Business and CREW UK board member, comments: “In a traditionally male-dominated industry, it’s crucial that women are given the opportunity to take part in the initiative to network, build strong leadership skills, and learn to be better self-advocates.
“We’ve had fantastic outcomes from the first two rounds of the programme. It’s clear that the women taking part are experiencing the benefits of one-to-one time with a senior leader.”
Widely hailed as a success by those taking part, mentees have stated that their professional development and progression were significantly enhanced, as Lauren Hetherington, associate director at JLL Living and CREW Connects mentee, explains: “The programme allows us to have access to people that are incredibly successful, driven, and have a desire to pass on their experiences and knowledge to improve our careers and trajectory.
“Working with my mentor helped me to create opportunities to excel within my current team and to improve my network within the industry – as well as forcing me to look at what I really wanted out of life from a personal perspective.”
Sue Asprey Price, head of corporate solutions UK with JLL and CREW UK mentor, added: “It’s an incredible experience for all involved. For the mentors, we create new connections, share our experiences and learn about new challenges. All of the mentees that I have worked with have ‘done their homework’ and been thoughtful on what can help them on their success journey. It is a truly rewarding experience.”
Due to the demand generated by the initiative’s success, the third round is currently underway, with a fourth iteration of the CREW UK Connects programme launching in January 2022.