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#EachforEqual: International Women’s Day Theme for 2020 Resonates with IREM

For more than a century, March 8 has been recognized as International Women’s Day – a day set aside around the world to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This is especially true this year, when the theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual based on the idea that an equal world is an enabled world.

The International Women’s Day website reinforces that “Equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. Gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive.” It goes on to say that “The race is on for the gender equal boardroom, a gender equal government, gender equal media coverage, gender equal workplaces, gender equal sports coverage, more gender equality in health and wealth.”

For IREM, International Women’s Day creates an opportunity to look at where we are – and where we’ve come from – in terms of how women are represented within the real estate management profession. 

First and foremost, IREM advances its commitment to being a diverse, inclusive organization through its diversity statement, which reads: “We are an inclusive organization that values differences and provides an equal opportunity environment for members, vendors, and staff. We welcome individuals of all races, ages, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, creeds, national origins, and individuals with disabilities.”

With respect to gender equality, this commitment is made evident in looking at the numbers. The 2019 edition of the CPM Profile and Compensation Study reveals that 54 percent of all CPMs in the US are women. This number compares dramatically to 30 years earlier: in 1989, women comprised only 26.4 percent of the CPM membership. What’s more, 64 percent of today’s US CPM Candidates are women, and 62 percent of CPM Candidates in Canada are women, evidence that an increasing number of women in North America are choosing property management as their career of choice.

Add to this the role women are playing in leading real estate organizations. The issue of women in commercial real estate was a topic of discussion last month at the Commercial Real Estate Conference sponsored by the Alabama Center for Real Estate. The CEOs of four real estate associations – Denise Froemming with IREM, Greg Fine with CCIM, Jim Amorin with the Appraisal Institute, and Tom McCormick with SIOR – cited examples of women in leadership roles within their organizations. Examples they cited were Barbara Crane as the 2019 president of CCIM and the third overall, two past presidents of the Appraisal Institute, SIOR with the first woman president elected in 1950 and Patricia Loveall ascending to president in 2022, and Cheryl Gray, CPM, as the 2020 IREM president and the eighth woman to serve in that position. (The first was Beverly Roachell, CPM, in 1994.)

Last year, as part of the 2019 International Women’s Day observance, Gray shared her story with IREM – and it continues to resonate. “As a woman in property management in the 1980’s, I found that many of the roles were typically filled by men. To gain respect and show that I was equally qualified, I had to spend considerable time learning every aspect of the job at rapid speed just to prove myself,” said Gray. “While we still need to focus on achieving better representation in the C-Suite and boards of real estate organizations, it is more common today to see women in senior roles in our industry, and I am proud of the gains women have made over the course of my career.”

To reinforce the message of #EachforEqual, a pose has been adopted to motivate others to do what they can to make a positive difference for women everywhere. The pose is simple: Put your arms in front of you at right angles to your body, elbows bent and palms down to make an equal sign. This shows that you are committing to being "each for equal" and that you will challenge the status quo and help forge women's equality.

About the Author
Nancye Kirk is Head of Special Projects at IREM Headquarters in Chicago, and is committed to advancing women’s roles in property management.

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