The global real estate market
calls out for advocacy and diversity
Since becoming CEO of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network in February 2017, Wendy Mann
has further immersed herself in the numerous aspects of the industry. CREW Network has more than
10,000 members worldwide, representing a wide range of skill sets.
“We have everyone on the spectrum of commercial real estate, from the land folks to the development folks, to
architects and engineers, all the way up to those who are asset managers,” said Mann, who previously served as
senior vice president for NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
Mann spoke with Scotsman Guide about a variety of topics, including gender and pay equality within the industry, as well as the shifting landscapes for marketing and technology.
How can the commercial real estate and financing industries achieve greater equality for women in terms of
salaries and attaining leadership positions?
First and foremost, I think our role as an industry organization is to raise the visibility about the issue of pay and
equality. … We do our benchmark study (to measure progress for women in commercial real estate) every five
years, and we get a lot of visibility out of that.
It’s unfortunate that companies didn’t decide to self-regulate this years ago, because now we’re seeing
government stepping in, setting rules and guidelines around pay parity. In the state of Massachusetts, they
created an incentive to ask companies to do salary-administration programs, to make sure there was parity
between genders. In New York City, there is a piece of legislation that Mayor [Bill] de Blasio signed that stated
that companies were not permitted to ask potential candidates (about) their previous salaries. Those kinds of
laws going into place are really helping.
Do you believe we’re at or near the end of the commercial real estate cycle? If so, does that make marketing
efforts more crucial for mortgage brokers?
The cycle has been so strong for so long that I feel like we are nearing a dip. I think it’s not going to be as deep
as the last one, but I definitely think there’s going to be a dip. The difference between now and 2008 is we’re all
watching it, much more aware of it, and watching the (market) fundamentals.
Social media has dramatically changed how people are marketing and communicating, especially leveraging
LinkedIn and leveraging Twitter as platforms for communicating. There are [platforms] like theBrokerList, Duke Long
… but if you kind of trawl through social media, it has really changed the dynamic. And I think that [mortgage]
brokers who aren’t paying to attention to that and leveraging that are going to struggle, whether there’s a
downturn or not.
Commercial real estate, it has always been a very personal business. I don’t think that’s going to change, but I think
it’s going to be more of a combination between building personal relationships and leveraging social media.
In tandem with marketing, how can mortgage brokers better embrace technology to improve their business?
Let me say this, overall, about technology in commercial real estate: Anyone who is burying their head and not
investing in someone within the company being a strategic technology person … is going to be left behind.
There is no doubt in mind that if you are not building a technology strategy, and you are not devoting time,
resources and expertise to that, it’s going to be really difficult to catch up in five years.
Look at crowdfunding. Five years ago, I believed in it but other people around me were saying, “Oh, that’s never
going to take off.” I think we’re going to see, over time, that does have a lot of merit. … It’s giving people a power
to invest and to participate in building communities.
Are there any new or emerging topics that CREW Network is trying to make commercial real estate
professionals more aware of?
I want people to understand that CREW Network is not just a women’s organization. We welcome anyone who is
interested in and committed to advancing women and diversity in commercial real estate. It is really important
to me for us to collaborate and find those people.
Our mission has not really changed, but we’ve adjusted it to really focus on a more global workplace, as we become
a more global industry with a lot of foreign capital coming in and a lot of foreign investment going out. n
Neil Pierson is editor of Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Mann is the CEO of CRE W Network. She is a certified association executive (CAE) with 30 years of experience
in association management. Mann has
a passion for commercial real estate,
a strategic vision for CREW Network,
and a commitment to mentoring and
advancing women within the industry.
She is dedicated to working collaboratively with like-minded organizations
and companies to make diversity and
inclusion a priority. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, and works in Lawrence,
Kansas. Reach Mann at (785) 856-8261
CEO, CREW Network
By Neil Pierson