Do you remember your first paycheck in commercial real estate? I remember mine.
Growing up, I needed to work to be independent and to create the financial stability I didn’t feel I had. Like many, I fell into my first commercial real estate role. It was a second job typing leases for a humble, powerhouse broker who had outgrown his company and was about to launch the boutique firm I now lead. I wasn’t the first woman hired—he started the company with four industrial brokers, two were women. In that decade of silk bowties, they were tremendous role models. When my boss was opening mail one Saturday and held up a commission check that was easily double my single mom’s annual salary, I knew there was a broader world out there and paths to financial security.
As I reflect on that time in my life, I realize just how important earning my way was for me. My mom was always one step forward, one step back financially—those times weren’t kind to divorced women. I knew I had to pay my way for education and whatever life was ahead. Every dollar counted for me, and the money I earned wasn’t fun money—it was roof-over-my-head, food and college money. I was driven by stability and determination not to live a life in poverty.
Back then, I felt fortunate to have a steady source of income and didn't question or challenge what I was earning. Today, I know more and understand more, which is why I can look at what women earn with a different, more informed lens. Today, March 15, 2022, is the day when women have earned as much as men did for all of 2021. Yes, we have worked 14.5 months to equal what men earn for 12 months. While this is disappointing, even more shameful is the lack of pay parity for women of color:
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day is May 3. Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid 75 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is Sept. 21. Black women are paid 58 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day is Dec. 1. Native American women are paid 50 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- Latina’s Equal Pay Day is Dec. 8. Latinas are paid 49 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Our 2020 benchmark study revealed there's a 34% compensation gap between women and men in commercial real estate—a nearly 11% increase from our 2015 study.
With women in the U.S. earning 83% of what men earn, we ask every woman to stand with us and demand that leaders conduct pay equity studies in their organizations. Let's ensure that women in all fields earn the same as their male counterparts. If you are a company leader, commit to helping achieve parity and greater diversity in our industry by signing our CRE Pledge for Action.
Do not let this day pass without speaking out about pay parity. We have earned it, now it is time to receive it.
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Barbi Reuter is 2022 President of CREW Network and CEO of Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR.