The Real Deal, a media company that focuses on NYC, South Florida and Los Angeles real estate news, took a look around the top brass in New York’s residential and commercial real estate start-ups, traditional residential and commercial brokerages and development/investment companies and guess what? There is a tremendous gender gap.
Real estate start-ups and development, investment, commercial sectors are dominated by men. In New York, the leadership in these firms is 70% male. Of NYC’s 20 largest commercial brokerages, only 3 firms are close to an even split of women and men.
The Real Deal found there has been zero improvement in gender diversity in top-level commercial real estate suites between 2007 and 2015. In 2007, 27.2% of executive level managers were women; in 2015, 27.3% of executive level managers were women.
And today, of the 15 developers/owners with the largest NYC holdings based upon square footage and dollar valuation, 8 of these outfits had one woman or none at all on leadership teams.
Most commercial brokers, owners, developers, investors agree that the commercial sector is a “…high stakes, cut-throat business that requires breaking into a tight-knit network that is largely unavailable to women.” According to developer Toby Moskovitz, “ People hire people that they know and people who look like them…it’s a testosterone laden environment. It’s hard as a woman in that world to find a place.”
The Real Deal found that residential real estate was more tilted towards women. Of the 10 largest residential brokerages, 9 have workforces made up of approximately 48% women. Elliman’s CEO is Dottie Herman and Corcoran’s CEO is Pam Liebman. Elizabeth Ann Stribling Kivlan is the former president of Stribling and Associates.
Both Herman and Liebman think that the reality of women in residential real estate rooted itself two or three decades ago when real estate was seen more as a part-time pursuit rather than today’s multi-billion dollar industry. However, Bess Friedman, co-president of Brown Harris Stevens said, “…with the exception of Stribling and Associates, the largest (residential) brokerages are still owned by men…it’s drip by drip for us (women) to make progress. We’re not even close to where we need to be.”
With gender disparity comes income disparity. According to the 2015 national survey done by the Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network, the commercial industry’s median annual compensation for women was $45,000 and $150,000 for men.
The Real Deal did not look at incomes of women and men in either commercial or residential real estate endeavors. Hopefully, such a comparative look will be its next research project.