Attorney co-chairs real estate task force

The Detroit chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Detroit) has some unique insights on the findings of the recently released national benchmarking report on women in commercial real estate, "Women in Commercial Real Estate: 2010," released by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network. The report is a follow-up to the first ever in-depth look at the issue of men and women in commercial real estate, which was conducted by CREW Network in 2005. Meg Van Meter, a Detroit-area commercial real estate attorney and Past President of Crew Detroit, served as Co-Chair of the Industry Research Task Force for both 2005 and 2010 benchmarking reports.

Van Meter notes the new national report findings confirm what she is seeing in Southeast Michigan as well:

* More women are entering the field of commercial real estate: 36 percent in 2005 as compared to 43 percent today -- a seven percent increase.

* An increase in the number of women with less than five years of experience and women with more than 20 years of experience.

* The wage gap between men and women is narrowing, but still present. More women are now in the $100,000 per year to $250,000 per year salary category, but still fewer than men. Whereas only 8 percent of women surveyed in 2005 were at the $250,000 level, by 2010 that figure had increased to 11 percent, while the percentage of men in the same compensation category had decreased from 34 percent to 31 percent.

* In 2010, two times as many women as men reported earning less than $75,000 per year as opposed to three times as many in 2005.

* Men still report earning a greater portion of their overall compensation from various forms of variable compensation such as bonuses, stock options, etc. but both men and women are beginning to report that a higher percentage of their total compensation is drawn from base salary (58 percent in 2005 to 67 percent in 2010).

* C-Suite positions continue to be a male majority: In the 2010 survey, 9 percent of the female respondents reported holding a C-suite position - President, CEO, CFO, COO - while 22 percent of the male respondents reported holding C-Suite positions.

"The commercial real estate market was among the hardest hit industries in the nation, so it's not surprising that that the number of C-Suite positions was significantly reduced in the 2010 study for both men and women," adds Van Meter. "Southeast Michigan's commercial real estate market was especially hard hit, so the loss was even greater locally. What we don't want to happen is a 'Rosie the Riveter' type scenario where women's gains are wiped out when men return to the commercial real estate market full force after the current recession lifts. We have to maintain focus on ensuring parity in compensation and opportunity."

Published: Thu, Dec 9, 2010