On-Demand: ESG in Real Estate--Women Building Community

July 20, 2021

We discussed real estate investing through the prism of ESG, and how women in the industry have built powerful networks to support and empower the kind of investment and development that transforms communities.


Transcript

Crystal Shin:Welcome. My name is Crystal Shin, and in this session, we will be covering two related concepts pertaining to the way real estate in this industry makes a positive impact in our communities.

The first, real estate investing through the prism of ESG, which stands for environmental, social, and governance principles and standards. The other area we'll talk about is how women in the industry have built powerful networks to support and empower the kind of investment and development that transforms our communities. So that being said, thank you all for being here today. We're prepared for a rich conversation.

I like to start off by having each of you introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about your personal journey of incorporating the principles of ESG into your professional practice. Diane, I'll let you go first.

Diane Paddison:Great. Thank you so much for asking me to join you today, Crystal and the EisnerAmper team. My journey professionally was on the global executive teams of two Fortune 500 companies, CBRE and ProLogis, and one Fortune 1000 company, Trammell Crow company. In each case, I was the only woman that served on the global executive teams. Today, I serve on the board of directors of Lightstone, and founded a not-for-profit, 4word, which has served 750,000 women in the workplace since 2011.

My passion, from a social perspective, is to help people of color and women believe what they cannot see in the executive ranks of most companies. At Trammell Crow and CBRE, I headed up the diversity committee, which implemented a rising star mentor program focused on mentor relationships with executives. At Cassidy Turley, where I was a consultant, which now is a company that's a part of Cushman & Wakefield, we sponsored a program for commercial real estate women nationally with a mentor program. Today at 4word, the not-for-profit that I founded, one of the three ways we connect women is through our mentor program with intentionality around women of color, of which our last three classes have had 25% of our participants have been women of color. This is my passion, and I will later talk about the environmental and governmental side.

Crystal Shin:Perfect. Thank you, Diane. Lise.

Lise Stewart:Thanks, Crystal. And thank you for inviting me to be part of this. It's a wonderful opportunity and it's about something that's just so important, and really near and dear to my heart. So, I run the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance here at EisnerAmper, which means I get to get involved in a lot of very, very different types of projects and work with wonderful clients. But I took a very secure just route to get here. And my interest in ESG, particularly as it pertains to real estate, is deeply, deeply personal.

So I don't share my story with very many people, but about 22 years ago, we had a terrible health crisis in our family and we were grossly under-insured, which meant that we lost everything. And so my children and I, three little children and I, ended up homeless. We lived in a tent on the outskirts of a city in the west, and I have to say, it is an incredibly humbling experience, if you've never done it, to ask other people for food to help you to feed your children. It's also a very humbling and frightening experience to try to figure out where can you live on very little money and communities that are safe and have good education.

And so I have very vivid memories of getting up in the morning, out of my tent, paying the woman in the tent next door to keep an eye on my children. I would zip them up in their sleeping bags, and then I would zip up the tent. I would go to the community bathrooms and change into some good clothes, and go off to work. I did that for six months until I could afford enough money, or had built up enough money to afford a small apartment. So that experience for me opened my eyes to the need for truly life-giving communities, safe communities, affordable communities, particularly for women. And as you were saying too, Diane, women of color, these are the people that are truly impacted by this.

So it is through an experience of tremendous humility, that was also just fantastic learning for me. And it means that it started me on a journey which I've committed much of my life to trying to be able to help different women, and to be able to make sure that our communities are paying attention to their needs so that people have safe places to live, that they can educate their children, and that we're really investing in communities that grow strong and healthy people, because that's how we build strong and healthy economies, and strong and healthy countries. So for me, it's a personal journey and I'm really, really pleased to be here.

Crystal Shin:Thank you so much. What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. Rachel.

Rachel Vinson:Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here today and participate in this conversation. And Lise, thank you so much for sharing that. Your vulnerability is inspirational. What an amazing story. So, I work at CBRE and I lead our finance team for the Americas for our advisory services segment. I have been in the real estate finance industry for about the last 20 years now, and have been through multiple cycles, some downturns worse than others. I've seen the industry evolve tremendously over the last 20 years. And I'm super excited about where we're at today, and encouraged.

ESG and diversity and inclusion, these are not new topics, they're not new concepts, they've been around for years and years, but they haven't been center stage and have the spotlight like they do today. And so I think it's gone from a nice-to-have soundbite to it's a critical component to how we conduct business, to our strategic growth plans, to how we service our clients. So it's a very exciting time to be in the industry. One of my passions is to be a voice for those that maybe don't have a voice for themselves. And particularly thinking to Lise's story, that tends to impact women much more of the time, and it's something that we need to change.

And so about seven years ago, I started getting involved with the Texas Women's Foundation. And we like to refer to the ripple effect. And when it comes to investing in a woman, you invest in her children and you invest in her household, you invest in her community. And by changing her world, we change our world. And so being in a position where I can incorporate ESG and be an example of what true diversity and inclusion and societal responsibility means, and to be able to demonstrate that, is an honor and a privilege.

Crystal Shin:Thank you. Thanks, Rachel. Thank you so much for coming today. I know we have a lot of conversation ahead of us, but as Lise mentioned earlier, I mean, every one of us had obviously life experiences that have shaped our personal philosophies and professional practice as well. We also know that the experience of past year have had an impact on our lives and way we do business. So that being said, Rachel, when we talk about socially responsible real estate development, what trends are you seeing and how has past year impacted the situation?

Rachel Vinson:All right. So coming out of the pandemic, it's nearly impossible to think of something that hasn't been impacted by the events of the last 12 to 18 months. And when it comes to real estate, both on the development side and the transactional side of the business, the principles of ESG are more important now than ever. First and foremost is health and safety, and what's the future of office. This question is probably the number one conversation that we're having with all of our clients, and it's how do we come back to the office and how do we resume some sense of normalcy, but keep our employees safe and healthy. And so whether it's the need to upgrade the HVAC system to ensure there's proper ventilation and airflow, or cleaning protocols, or consulting on the design of the workplace to ensure that there's proper social distancing, our clients are looking for us to help them navigate through this return to office.

And it's interesting when we think back to what was the role of the office and the workplace prior to the pandemic. It was assumed that you have to be in the office in order to ensure that productivity takes place. And what we learned over the last year and a half, and although, you know, it depends on who you ask, some people have varying opinions on this, but we learned that, generally speaking, productivity can take place outside of the office. So then what's the role? And what's loud and clear, after the last year and a half, is that connectivity, the collaboration.

And so the role of the office is going from a place where productivity takes place or is necessary to ensure that productivity takes place too. It's the place where collaboration happens, and connectivity, and it's the place where culture is built. It's incredibly difficult to build, establish, maintain culture over Zoom and over a Teams chat. There's no substitute for that face-to-face interaction. So I think coming out of this, the concept of sustainability extends well beyond the environmental responsibility. And it's much more holistic and will encompass our responsibility as human beings and corporate citizens to drive social connectivity in the communities that we live and work.

Crystal Shin:Absolutely. I agree that it's a holistic approach than like just one side of the angle, right? We have to look at, overall, to really understand and tackle this big ESG concept. So thank you. Diane, what trends are you seeing in the socially responsible real estate development and how has past year impacted the situation?

Diane Paddison:Yes. Well, first of all, I do have to say, Lise, your story, I serve on the national board of The Salvation Army, and you need to be on the board, because what we do, you lived through yourself. So thank you for sharing your story. I'm going to talk at the 30,000 foot level because I really haven't been deep involved in the operational sides of real estate for about 10 years, and it was great to have Rachel begin. But I will share that as an independent director for Lightstone, they developed properties in Brooklyn where they did remediation and really changed this community with the properties that they have done that with. So it's wonderful to see things that are happening today to really address the environmental side.

Well, when I started in the industry, so some of you are going to get some real history here. When I mention the year I started in real estate, you'll probably think, "I wasn't even born then." But in 1987, I started as a leasing agent in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I remember, I was working on a building for Allstate Insurance and we were doing asbestos abatement. Yes, that's how old I am. And that was an important part of really bringing the building up to standards, which really addresses what Rachel talked about, the whole health and safety side as it relates to ESG.

And then as my career progressed and I oversaw the portfolios for corporate and then institutional clients for Trammell Crow and CBRE, it was the beginning of Energy Star, and measuring your carbon footprint, which I know today is a huge part of what goes on in the environmental side of real estate. And the industry has progressed so far since I have been in the day-to-day operations.

I also, just tagging on to what Rachel said, I do think work, like she said, is going to be done so much differently in the future. Many of you have found that you don't have to do this commute every day and still be productive, and still be able to really put some time into other parts of your life. And it's obvious that there's been such a huge effect, especially on the retail side. What I've read is that the transformation to online has been 1% a year. Last year, it was 10%. So we transferred a decade of being face-to-face to online. So obviously, retail has been tremendously affected and the distribution facilities that support that. But then, of course, multifamily, single family, and office space are hugely affected too, as Rachel suggested. So, it's going to be really interesting to see what's ahead of us as it relates to the ESG side of real estate in the future.

Crystal Shin:Absolutely, absolutely. Diane, so switching gears more towards the G side of the ESG, so the corporate governance, what impact are you seeing nowadays for the real estate companies?

Diane Paddison:Yeah, I think that as an independent director, you have to always be asking a lot of questions. You have to be asking questions environmentally, you know, how are the buildings being measured from a sustainability standpoint related to carbon targets, et cetera? On the social side, you need to be looking at things like vendor and supplier screening, diversity, inclusion, equal opportunity initiatives, and health and safety practices, as Rachel mentioned earlier. And so just asking those kinds of questions, and also how is what we're doing affecting employees, communities, tenants, and our other stakeholders? So you really do need to be thinking about every stakeholder, including revitalizing your neighborhoods, your communities, and supporting the needs of your tenants.

And then from a governance perspective, you really have to look at your board members. Do you all bring gifts and strengths to the table that work together, that really cover a broad range of governance needs for your board? Also, just the audit function, and this is a music to EisnerAmper's ears, but making sure you have a great audit firm that really is looking at all financial aspects. And it's also important to look at the chairman and the CEO, is that one person, what is the relationship, how's the compensation handled? So there are many questions as an independent director that you need to be asking to feel comfortable that the governance side of ESG is being handled very well.

Crystal Shin:I love that, asking a lot of questions. I love that. Lise, what's your thoughts on it?

Lise Stewart:Well, I actually agree with everything that Diane said. She gave us a wonderful list of the things that I think boards should be looking at. I find it interesting. So I'm a consultant that works with boards. I've worked with over 30 boards last year, and will be almost doubling that number this year. So we get to see a lot of different types of boards. And in the real estate industry, well, actually, I'm noticing a number of different things. So one is that many of our board clients are family-owned organizations, right? They're family-owned real estate investor groups, and they've been grappling with some of these issues for quite a long time. And so what we're seeing is that instead of ESG being kind of a new button on to the way in which they govern and operate their organizations, it truly is integrated into their philosophy as well as their methodologies.

So they're thinking about their values and how they can make sure that their values are reflected in the types of communities that they invest in, the types of communities that they're out there building. And for me, that's just music to my ears. I love the idea that it's not something that they're doing because it's just simply the in thing to do right now, or it's really popular, but it truly is integrated into their overall practice.

The other thing that I think is interesting about ESG, particularly the fact that it has become such a popular subject right now, is it seems to have given boards the permission that they need to ask all the sorts of questions that Diane brought up. It gives a framework. It says, "These are really important things for us to be thinking about and talking about," whether it's diversity on one hand, whether it's our environmental and sustainability practices on the other.

And I think that a lot of boards are welcoming the opportunity to have this checklist, to make sure that they are meeting some of the expectations of additional investors, the expectations of the family, if that's who ownership is, et cetera. So I think I'm seeing only positives coming out of this. I think that one of the benefits too going forward is that we're going to see more information and more consolidation in terms of what constitutes really good practices in the ESG realm. So it's all up from here, and I'm really pleased to see it catching on.

Crystal Shin:Yes, absolutely. That's a great point. It's a framework, right? We're working towards a big movement altogether. Yes. Rachel, what considerations do you take into account for ESG projects?

Rachel Vinson:Yes. So given the size and diversity of the CBRE platform, the ESG considerations show up in numerous ways throughout the company and across the platform from our internal governance, to audit, to development, to the external services that we provide to our clients. CBRE has ESG goals obviously, but our clients also do as well, and they're looking to us to engage with them to help them achieve their goals as well.

One of the ways that we are doing this is through a partnership with a company called EcoVadis. It's a company that provides an online document-based sustainability rating of suppliers throughout the supply chain. So they've developed a scorecard, and it's structured around four key themes: environment, labor and human rights, ethics, and supply chain. And the database allows us to drill into various components, whether that's emissions, or health and safety conditions, and bring awareness to the vendors of where they have opportunities to elevate their ESG, and we can work with them so that we're aligned.

And the suppliers who pass a minimum score of 45, we will tag them as a sustainable supplier in our internal system, and that allows the entire company to utilize the vendor and also allows us to start to track and monitor who we are doing business with, and be more intentional around that space. So, going to previous comments that have already been made, ESG is not something that can happen in a vacuum or a silo. It has to be a collaboration of all the stakeholders, both internal and external, who commit to this journey to continuously improve.

Crystal Shin:Yes. And I love the word intentionality, right? It has to be coming with intentionality to really come together for this movement. Lise, what's your thoughts on it?

Lise Stewart:Well, I'm just so pleased that organizations like Rachel's are out there. They're doing so much of the leg work in terms of being able to assess businesses. The work that we do is a little bit different in that, as I said, I'm often working with real estate families, and just by way of a short story. A couple of years ago, I was working with a real estate family in the Greater Seattle area, and the patriarch of the family business died very suddenly. He had had some pretty I would say conservative and tried and true methodologies in the way in which he invested in real estate.

But with his sudden passing, his three young daughters then took over the company. Two of them had been working in the company beside him, but the third hadn't and they were still really quite young, and that's when they called us in. And these sisters were really clear about wanting to be able to change the direction of where their organization was going in terms of how they invested in real estate. Sustainability was very important, making sure- Of course, many of you know that in the Greater Seattle area, homelessness is an enormous issue. And so they wanted to make sure that their efforts were going some way towards helping with that problem. And they needed to get educated on what this meant. What did this look like? How could they change the direction of their investments? Who should they be working with? And on, and on.

So we started with helping them to very clearly define what were the values that they held as a family? How did they want to see the investments that they were making reflect those values back? How could they encapsulate this in a philosophy of investing? And then how could we match make them with the right people so that they then could really see their values and their vision at work? And it was an enormously successful partnership that we had and they're doing a fantastic job.

So, those are the sorts of things that we're really seeing. When I walk into a project where people are telling me that these are some of the things that are important to them, they're near and dear to their heart, they want to be able to make a change. We start right at the very beginning and making sure that we understand what that change should look like, how their values are going to be reflected, and what they really see in terms of the future. And then we're connecting with wonderful companies like Rachel's to try to figure out who are the best partners for them moving forward.

Crystal Shin:Thank you so much for sharing that story. I love it. So switching gears a little bit, I know we talked about diversity and inclusion a little bit earlier, but those are very big concepts. Those are big topics of conversation nowadays in all industry. And real estate in particular has been exploring the impact of inclusivity that makes on the development, the property management, the investment side of it, and all around. So that means that, Lise, from your standpoint, how can we continue to make progress in terms of increasing inclusivity in the real estate leadership?

Lise Stewart:This covers the gamut in terms of the same inclusivity, diversity policies that we need in any organization truly. So it's not necessarily just specific to real estate. But when we're working with organizations, what we try to do is to make sure that they have a clearly defined policy. Unfortunately, and I'm sure many of you have seen this, because again, it's become such a hot topic today, that there are companies that have paid lip service perhaps to some of their statements, their soundbites, about what diversity and inclusion means in their organization. All you have to do is to go out to Glassdoor and read some of the employees' accounts of their own companies to realize that there's a disconnect between sometimes what organizations say and what their employees actually experience. And in the real estate, we're talking, to your point, not just your employees, but you're also talking about your property managers, and your tenants, and the communities that they serve, et cetera.

So our starting point really for this is to try to make sure that there is a clear policy, that there are protocols in place, and that the organizations and the leaders of that organization walk the talk, that it is cascaded down throughout all of the practices throughout the organization. So for us, that starting point is really important. And we're also trying to make sure that when we start talking about diversity and inclusion, we're talking about a wide array, whether this is making sure that your programs, your practices reach out to women, people of color, indigenous societies, whether it's LGBTQ communities, however wide you're going to be able to cast that net, make sure that your policies reflect your practices and vice versa.

Crystal Shin:Great point. Clearly define policies. I think that's key, definitely. Diane, I know this is near and dear to your heart, what's your thoughts on this?

Diane Paddison:Yeah. I thought I'd touch on three areas. One is speaking up to help women advance into positions. Just in the, second, in the day-to-day operations, supporting women and people of color. And third, about the pipeline. So I'm going to share a story in each of those. And I think it's really important, especially as a board member, but also as an executive, or at any meeting, to really choose your spots when you speak up, because then you can really be heard. And so I'll give you on the first one speaking up for positions.

So when I served on the board of Cassie Turley, we had a board meeting. It was eight people, I was the only woman. We were talking about the CEO, he needed a right-hand person to become the COO. It was so obvious to me that the person needed to be Shelley. So when the right time opened up, I said, "Have you ever thought about Shelley Radomski?" And they all looked at me like, "Oh my gosh, you're right." So sometimes there's an obvious answer, but there's blind spots.

That also happened, I'm on the advisory board of the Stan Johnson Company, and we were in a similar discussion. And fortunately, I had been a mentor to one of the women in their company. And when the same question was answered, and it was really about succession to the CEO, I mentioned Amy. And again, they all agreed, and she is now on her way to being one of the few key leaders of the company. So first, just take the opportunity, but do it when it really counts to speak up to move women and people of color into positions.

Second, day-to-day, one of our virtual board meetings with Lightstone, Donna was giving a report and her kids, this was at the beginning of the pandemic, her kids kept coming through the door, "Mom, mom," and she was so embarrassed and felt so horrible. And all the board members love children and love their families, but no one was saying anything. And I said, "Donna, you do not need to apologize. We're all learning this new world of living in our work, in our homes. And please, don't apologize." And I just think that just helped everybody just kind of take a deep breath and like, "Yeah, this is just what life is right now, right?"

And then I would say third of all, help build the pipeline. And I'm going to probably embarrass Rachel right now, but we were just together in June and her husband was talking to me about getting on boards. And I said, "Hey, get me Rachel's board resume," and I have women that lead Women Corporate Directors, women that lead Women Business Collaborative. And I bet I've already forwarded five women's resumes and people of color to these leaders. And if we can all just help the pipeline, because we have this network that a lot of men don't have, and we need to be providing them with these amazing possible board members for their companies.

Crystal Shin:That's amazing, Diane. Women supporting women. I love it. I know you do it on a daily basis, so thank you so much for that. Rachel, what's your thoughts on this? How do we increase inclusivity in real estate leadership?

Rachel Vinson:Thanks, Crystal. I love the comments from Lise and Diane. And I will echo, we've come so far and we have so far to go. And I actually think, I'll echo a bit what Lise said, I actually think as a society, we're at a bit of a critical point in the D&I journey, where we have to ensure that we're not just checking boxes, putting diverse leaders on boards and in leadership positions. But that we're actually ensuring that their voices carry equal weight, and their time carries equal value. And until an organization gets to that point where all leaders, all diverse candidates, regardless of race, of gender, of ethnicity, of identification, their voice carries the same weight and their time carries the same value. It won't truly be part of the integrity of the culture. And so I feel like that's phase two. And we're at the point where I think that's the next big step for an organization.

I also think, at CBRE, our D&I has been expanded to DE&I, diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I feel like is a step moving towards making sure that everybody is valued equally. And the framework around this is around three strategic pillars. It's the culture, it's talent, and then marketplace, AKA the community. And so within this framework, we're focusing on employee engagement. We just participated in a company-wide employee survey. And the last question on the survey was freeform. You can imagine some of the comments we got back, but it was great to have the opportunity for our employees to have a voice and to be heard.

And not only did we come out with this survey, but our leaders took the results back and shared them with their teams and employees. So it wasn't just, "Thank you for participating. We got the results. Everybody, have a good day." We're actually letting people know we heard them and we're working on the areas where, it's clear from the feedback that we received, we've got some work to do.

So, the other thing too, is attracting and developing diverse talent. And we have embedded this into our performance evaluations, and in our hiring process, and our screening process. And so it's becoming part of the day to day. And I think that's so important and I love, Diane, your story about recommending the woman at the right time. And I think so many times, there are unconscious bias that we don't even realize, both men and women, where we think about a role, or we think about the prior person who was in it, and we don't think that it could be done a little differently, or it could be done by someone who looks different. And so sometimes it's really important to make that recommendation and encourage people to think outside the box.

Crystal Shin:I love that. I love every bits of it. I especially like the part when you mentioned about the voice and time, it's equal when it comes to the value that it brings. So, I love that, the equality of it. So all of you have really put together into programs and advocacy directed towards developing the pipeline of women leaders in this space. We all know that it takes time and effort, right? It doesn't come overnight. That being said, Diane, what do you think are the key elements for successfully building that pipeline, and how can real estate companies better support the women in the process?

Diane Paddison:Yeah. Great question, Crystal. There were three studies done that ended at the same two answers, and the question they were answering was, if you held every characteristic or background demographic constant, what were the two top indicators of professional success? And this was done by Harvard Business Review Catalyst and the Center for Work-Life Balance. And the two that stood out were your network and if you had mentors or sponsors in your life. And so I just commend EisnerAmper for doing this, and I know a lot of it's around women in the company, but building a network is so important. I mean, I wouldn't have been the COO of ProLogis if I wouldn't have known the CEO. I wouldn't have gone to work for Trammell Crow company in 1987 if it wasn't for two of my HBS classmates that I kept in touch with. So I just say, always build your network. And it's not about capturing a bunch of business cards. It's about building relationships and keeping those relationships.

And then secondly, having mentors and sponsors in your life. I was blessed to have guts when I was the new leasing agent in 1987 at Trammell Crow. And I actually picked up the phone and called the CEO of Trammell Crow and asked him to be my mentor. And he said yes. And I know that because Don Williams was my mentor, that there were probably meetings, and he will never admit to this, but where they said, "Now, who would be the right person to move into this role?" And I'm sure that he was my sponsor in that case. And so I would just say, obviously through 4word, we have a mentor program, there's a lot of great mentor programs out there, and finding sponsors within your company who will guide you, and develop you, and give you feedback, are really important. So I would just say, based on those three studies, build your network and do it continuously, and always have mentors and sponsors in your life.

Crystal Shin:I love it. That reminds me of your, I heard it somewhere, your network is your net worth. Right? And then everybody, pick up your phone and call your CEOs now. Lise, what's your thoughts on this? How do we build a pipeline, especially to support the woman in the process?

Lise Stewart:Right. Yeah. Actually, again, I just echo what Diane said. She's just right on the mark with this. A colleague and I started a program called Cirque du Sophia. It's for women leaders, emerging leaders and women who are already in CEO positions. And we've been running these retreats for 21 years. So we have met a lot of women through this network. And in doing this, I've learned an awful lot about what propels women forward in organizations and what holds them back. And so I want to echo exactly some of those key points that women do need mentors, and we also need more women mentors.

So, I think sometimes, women in leadership positions don't always value their own ability to mentor others. So many very accomplished women still sort of suffer from the imposter syndrome. And so they feel like somehow they don't really deserve it, or maybe they're not as strong, or as able as a male in that same position. And I call rubbish on that, that I think that there are so many women who would be really powerful and effective mentors. And I would really love to see more women paired up with effective leaders in their own, and other organizations too. So I think that that's really key.

Another thing about building our network, I wrote an article a few years ago for women professionals about this very topic, because I think that in a lot of professional organizations, the way in which we are encouraged to, or even allowed to network, is very male centric. It's all around the golf game, or the cigars after a big meeting, or something like that. And we know that a lot of women, particularly younger women who may still have children at home, those are not nearly as effective, or they're just not able to be able to incorporate that into their lives, nor would they maybe have an interest.

And so I really like to encourage organizations to make sure that they're thinking about other more creative ways in which women can network and to build up those professional connections. So women tend to be much more comfortable in smaller meetings and lunch groups, having a flexible schedule to be able to do these sorts of things, and not always feeling like they've got to go out and sort of rub elbows with the guys to be able to network in the same way. So I really encourage that kind of creativity around this.

And I also think that we need to, as women, practice advocacy. I think, as you said, Diane, speaking up for other women, and it goes beyond just knowing the name of the appropriate person, but how do we become better advocates for women across the board? That means knowing their story, being able to have the highlights of careers, being able to really connect to the right people, turning this more into a practice. So I think advocating for women in these organizations is an educational tool that we all need, and I'd like to see more of us through all of our women's leadership programs actually supplying that kind of education.

Crystal Shin: I love it. I love it. This is our last question for today, but I'll direct this to you, Rachel. If there was one piece of advice that you want to give to women in real estate starting out their career now, what would it be?

Rachel Vinson:So I have two things. I couldn't get it down to one. The first is, be you. Just be you. Just like anything else in life that's worth having, it's not going to come easy. There's going to be challenges and there's going to be struggles. But don't confuse struggling with suffering. To me, suffering is pain that has to come to an end. Struggling is you building a muscle, be it mental, emotional, physical, and you will always rise up stronger for it. And the second thing, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to quote the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "It helps sometimes to be a little deaf. When a thoughtless or an unkind word is spoken, best tune it out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one's ability to persuade."

Crystal Shin:I love those advice. I'm taking a mental note here. Diane, what kind of advice would you give to women starting out their career now?

Diane Paddison:Yeah, I really think about a lot of times we hear that people are not being moved into positions because they don't have P&L responsibility, that they've come in through staff roles. And I would really encourage all of you in the beginning of your career to really start out in a producer kind of role and move into a P&L role, so that there's never a question that you know how to run a business or an area effectively.

Crystal Shin:I love it. Last but not least, Lise, one piece of advice.

Lise Stewart:Speak with good purpose. And what I mean by that is, I'm sure that you all have heard the stories about women are their own worst enemies, that we tear other women down, and may not be as fair or as kind. I don't believe that that's true, but I think that we need to take extra care to make sure that we do speak with good purpose, that we hold each other up, that we realize that the pie is in this, there's room for all of us, right? That by helping others to move forward, other women to move forward into key positions, doesn't mean that we undermine our own ability to continue to move forward.

So we must work together, speak with good purpose, so that we help all of us to move up in these organizations. And I think it can be done and we're seeing it happen all over the place. And you can see it just by having meetings like this. You have a webinar like this, and you can see women who've accomplished great things and really believe in what they do, and are continuing to speak with good purpose and advocate for other women. So, it makes being here a real joy. So thank you.

Crystal Shin:Thank you. Thank you so much for the conversation today. It was amazing. I wish I could do it for another couple of hours, but we'll end it here. And thank you so much again for joining us.

About Crystal Shin

Crystal Shin is a Director of Business Development with over 10 years of public accounting experience, servicing both public and private companies.

About Lisë Stewart

Lisë Stewart is Partner-in-Charge of the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence Group, as well as a leader of the firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance Services (“ESG”) practice. Lisë has experience in organizational development, strategic planning and training, and human performance management.

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