With the United States Thanksgiving holiday a couple days away, I find myself thinking about traditions. I’m guessing that most of you have some traditions around the holidays that you’ve been practicing for years. Maybe you plan your Thanksgiving dinner around watching football or your family volunteers at a soup kitchen to provide dinner for others before heading home to your own meal.
For me, my earliest memories are at my grandmother’s house with the guys all watching football and the kids in the “cellar” with toys and dolls scattered around. There were lots of grandchildren, so we were relegated to our own space—and yes, we had a kids table that I resented sitting at when I hit 13.
As we got older, we started our own traditions. One that I particularly liked was picking greens to make holiday wreaths. The small greens were abundant in the forest around our rural Pennsylvania town. Me, my mother and my siblings would head out to the woods with bags and pick. One year, I brought my new husband to join us. I don’t think he ever really understood how that could be a fun or good tradition!
Regardless of what you do, most families have some type of traditions they look forward to. There’s some safety in knowing the plan and how the time with family and/or friends will go. Aunt Mary always brings the pie, mom and dad always host, and sister Kathy always stirs the pot with outrageous commentary. We often find comfort and tradition in the place, people and security of knowing who will do or say what.
Like holidays, we find tradition in commercial real estate. Brokerage is a commission-based profession. Banking and finance, particularly on Wall Street, have been a bastion of white men. Hiring is usually a “who you know” rather than a selective process. That’s how we end up looking the same in the industry. Traditionally, it has just always been that way or happened that way. And historically, there has been security in that. But we can no longer cling to these outdated traditions. It’s time to change, to innovate, and to move the industry forward.
I find that the best way to change the way things are traditionally done is to ask: Is this still serving us well? Wouldn’t it be great if the executives continuing these traditions woke up one day and decided to ask if the way they are doing business, the people they hire, and the salaries they are paying are serving the business well? Perhaps it’s time to turn things on their side or upside down and see if there is a better way?
This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that many companies are beginning this journey to change the cultural traditions, the pay practices and the hiring processes that are no longer serving our industry well. We know, like those companies making change, that diversity of thought, experience and abilities brings greater success and an increased bottom line to the business. And that is one tradition that all executives can all get behind. Happy Thanksgiving!
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.
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