Increasing Women Leaders in Companies and Associations

Posted: Updated:

As members of an industry largely populated by male professionals, we see firsthand the need for more diversity. As Katie Culp, president of KSM Location Advisors, noted in a recent blog, diversity leads to better business decisions.

Through our membership in the Urban Land Institute, and as co-chairs of the Indiana district council’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, we’ve also witnessed multiple strategies that both companies and professional associations can use to increase the number of women leaders.

Within Companies

WLI’s goals center around promoting the advancement of women and increasing the number and visibility of women leaders in the real estate industry and in ULI. At the national level, WLI recently conducted a comprehensive research study, Women in Leadership in the Real Estate and Land Use Industry to analyze how women are faring in the industry and what approaches organizations can take to achieve a higher level of inclusivity in their leadership. While the survey is focused on real estate and development professionals, its takeaways apply to all companies as they look to increase inclusivity and empowerment. Here are just some of the highlights from the study:

  • Challenging work assignments, an inclusive culture, and managers who coach matter more to aspiring female leaders than do formal women’s programs and training.
  • Creating an inclusive culture where women thrive includes development of strong internal and external networks and enactment of objective hiring and promotion policies.
  • Female CEOs cite developing external networks as key to their career success and say it should be a top priority going forward.

Within Associations

Through our careers - and reinforced by some of these research findings - we’ve found that professional organizations play an integral role in supporting the growth and development of women, as they help us find mentors, build our external networks, and develop skills that translate to leadership positions in companies. Yet within the professional organizations themselves, there’s room to grow as it relates to advancing women leaders.

Locally, ULI's WLI group is making a concerted effort to promote women in real estate and land use by setting action plans to meet the WLI mission. If you volunteer for a professional association, consider these strategies to support the growth of women leaders.

  • Keep diversity top-of-mind with presenters and panelists. We’ve come a long way, but in many industries, there are still programs and events with few women taking the stage. As meeting and conference planners, it’s important to keep diversity of speakers and leaders top-of-mind. For example, to provide a resource to support more inclusive presentation opportunities, ULI Indiana’s WLI steering committee has put together a speaker directory that lists professional women in the local real estate and development industry and their subject matter expertise.
  • Encourage women to lead. In addition to keeping an eye on potential speakers at events, volunteers in professional organizations should always be looking for future committee and board members. In many cases, potential leaders simply need to be asked or encouraged to take on a role. Be proactive and empower candidates to pursue leadership positions in your association.
  • Create opportunities for small networking groups. As Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has said, "I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own." Networking is a critical benefit associations provide to members, and female leaders have identified external networks as key to their success. While networking opportunities that commonly bookend association meetings and programs are enjoyable and useful, smaller gatherings lend themselves more to in-depth discussions that build strong relationships and allow women to serve as sounding boards for one another. Think about how you can foster smaller gatherings of members to enable those connections.
  • Encourage mentoring opportunities. Company mentorship programs can be effective. However, finding a mentor outside of the office can provide more objective, alternative perspectives and allow for a level of vulnerability that might not be possible within the company. And while formal mentorship programs are helpful, smaller networking meetings can help members find mentors more organically.

Multiple local organizations - like Indy CREW, NAWBO and other associations within and outside of the real estate industry - provide effective and economical environments for the education and development employees are looking for outside of the office. When combined with advancement opportunities within the company, association involvement can even help retain leaders by positioning them for future career growth.

Both inside and outside of your company, changing mindsets, changing the narrative and vocabulary, and creating a sense of inclusiveness are key landmarks on the paths to greater diversity. Through investing in initiatives that empower everyone to grow and succeed, companies, associations, and their industries can reap the rewards that come from a diverse, inclusive environment.

  • Perspectives

    • Want Your Startup to Move Faster? Use Two Military Strategies

      Speed is everything at a startup. So is discipline. By that, I mean the discipline to stay focused on the most important objectives, to do the late nights and early mornings when we don’t want to do them, and to see the results of our work as objectively as possible. It’s not easy, especially when speed and discipline often seem at odds. We think about this a lot here at Powderkeg. How do we move as fast as possible while remaining as disciplined as possible? We recently...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Infosys to Break Ground at Airport Site

      State and local officials will Friday break ground on a new U.S. Education Center for India-based Infosys. The company is initially investing $35 million to transform more than 70 acres of the former Indianapolis International Airport terminal site into a training center and 250-person residential facility totaling 125,000 square feet.

    • Infosys Hub to 'Reskill' Workforce

      India-based Infosys, which today broke ground on a $35 million U.S. Education Center in Indianapolis, says the campus is focused on preparing the American workforce for the technology jobs of the future. "Continuous learning and reskilling are core components of Infosys' DNA," said Chief Operating Officer UB Pravin, adding the company will use the facility on the former Indianapolis International Airport terminal site to train 10,000 new American hires.

    • Renovations Coming to Edinburgh Premium Outlets

      Renovations are coming to Edinburgh Premium Outlets as plans have been announced by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG). Construction is set to begin this fall. The multi-million dollar plans include an archway sign, two new courts visible from I-65 on the east side of the property and a food truck plaza on the southwest corner.

    • 'Proven Leaders' to Head New Two-Year College

      Marian University has named Jeffrey Jourdan executive director of Saint Joseph's College of Marian University - Indianapolis, its new two-year institution. Michael Nichols will serve as associate director and dean of SJC@MU. In October, Marian and Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer detailed a partnership to launch the school near Marian's Indianapolis campus. St. Joe suspended operations in 2017 after massive debt responsibilities forced the school into an attempted rebirth.

    • Governor Eric Holcomb in April nominated 156 Indiana communities and neighborhoods to be Opportunity Zones. (image courtesy WTHR-TV)

      Portal to Promote 'Opportunity Zone' Investment

      The Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana has launched an online portal in hopes of attracting investors for the state's Opportunity Zone neighborhoods. The Opportunity Zone initiative, part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, aims to spark private capital investment in low-income urban and rural communities. Governor Eric Holcomb in April nominated 156 Indiana communities and neighborhoods to be Opportunity Zones. You can see the full list by clicking here. The state a...