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

    • Indiana's Rural Digital Divide is Real, But There Are Solutions

      While the digital divide may be shrinking in the United States, it is getting wider in our nation’s rural communities, and this is costing these communities $47 billion a year, according to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon. With a rural population of roughly 22 percent, Indiana has reason to be concerned. The digital divide—a gap in access to information and communications technology— was generally seen as shrinking in recent years with the...

    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

    • (rendering courtesy of Indy Eleven)

      Lawmakers Pass Bill For New Soccer Stadium

      A bill that helps provide funding for a new soccer stadium in Indianapolis is heading to Governor Eric Holcomb's desk. Senate Bill 7 creates a professional sports development area, which would capture taxes to help fund the facility. The stadium would serve as the home of the Indy Eleven soccer team and is part of the proposed $550 million Eleven Park project, first announced in January. The bill also approves funding for upgrades to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the...

    • (L to R) Liverpool Football Club Managing Director/Chief Commercial Officer Billy Hogan, LFC Legend Phil Babb, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.

      Notre Dame Stadium To Host Liverpool Football Club

      Notre Dame Stadium will this summer host the Liverpool Football Club as part of the English soccer team’s pre-season preparations. The team is also slated to play at Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York City.

    • Picture Courtesy: National Rifle Association

      Indy Ready For NRA's Return

      The National Rifle Association returns to Indianapolis for its annual convention Thursday. Visit Indy Senior Vice President Chris Gahl says, while the event is polarizing, it is also very high-profile, with both President Trump and Vice President Pence set to speak. The convention is expected to bring in 75,000 people and generate a $35 million economic impact. Gahl says the event is on the books to return to Indianapolis in 2023. The 148th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits...

    • Indiana's Rural Digital Divide is Real, But There Are Solutions

      While the digital divide may be shrinking in the United States, it is getting wider in our nation’s rural communities, and this is costing these communities $47 billion a year, according to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Amazon. With a rural population of roughly 22 percent, Indiana has reason to be concerned. The digital divide—a gap in access to information and communications technology— was generally seen as shrinking in recent years with the...

    • (Image courtesy of Amazon.com Inc.)

      Amazon Planning South Bend Facility

      Amazon Logistics has announced plans for its third Indiana delivery center. The company says the facility in South Bend will power its last-mile delivery capabilities in the region with the help of small businesses and independent contractors.