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Leading the Way with Gender Diversity in Commercial Property Management

Posted on March 17th, 2021

Image of Sara D'Elia, CEO of The REMM GroupWe did not set out to be a leader in diversity for the commercial real estate management industry. Our goal was to be the best commercial and multifamily real estate management company. Research shows having a diverse workplace leads to better problem solving, better collaboration, improved staff retention, a higher trust factor and higher profits. You can’t be the best if you succumb to the traditional gender gap in our industry.

Our boutique Southern California Property Management Company placed fifth in the nation and number one in California for The Best Places to Work in Multifamily for Women for 2021.  The REMM Group has maintained a nearly equal spread in gender for many years. In contrast, women only make up 36.7% of the commercial real estate workforce.

We always seek to hire the best candidate irrespective of gender or race. We believe the same is true of our industry peers today. What makes the difference at The REMM Group is how we develop talent, promote, and support our associates.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Starts at the Top

Our 55% female management team, and our women-owned status is even more outside the norm. The REMM Group Commercial and Multifamily Management Company became a majority women-owned business in 2013 when Sara D’Elia, Christine Dales, and Shawn Conerty formed Reliant Real Estate Management and assumed ownership of The REMM Group.

Christine Dales, COO, and Sara D’Elia, CEO, both held the CEO position at other Commercial Real Estate Management companies before acquiring The REMM Group with Shawn Conerty, CFO. These are positions that only 9% of women have achieved in the industry.

Every company reflects the values of its ownership. Research shows that companies that include women in senior management are more likely to adapt employee-friendly policies and programs and to champion the advancement of women.

Our gender-balanced ownership worked hard to design policies and programs that nurture our talent and help them advance. We did this because we saw our goal of creating value for our clients and delivering exceptional customer service was dependent on an exceptional team of men and women.

Mentoring Eliminates Barriers

The Top Five Barriers to Success from The 2020 Benchmark Study by CREW

Five Barriers to Equity

Women in commercial real estate cited the lack of a sponsor or mentor as being the most significant barrier to their success in a study done by MIPIM. The 2020 CREW report lists it as the third most significant barrier.

One of our women managers asked to set up a mentoring program at The REMM Group in 2014.  Management approved the idea, and our mentorship program began. It was so successful we determined the most effective way to ensure consistency and be able to offer mentorship to everyone, was to make mentoring an integral part of our management structure and our culture.

We encourage everyone to chart out a future for themselves in our company. These career-goal conversations allow us to support and guide the employees.

What holds women back is not overt, it is ingrained and includes self-limiting expectations and aspirations. Mentoring is a great way to address these subtle and ingrained tendencies and overcome the structural biases inherent in an industry that was once almost exclusively male.

We immediately address any tendencies by men or women to demean or undermine other co-workers. Those attitudes are not tolerated. We put high value on team members supporting one another.

Providing an Environment That Nurtures and Retains Talent

The REMM Group does more than just remove barriers we created a culture that promotes job satisfaction, teamwork and fosters the development of future leaders for our company. This culture is not automatic. We have worked hard to create it.

We developed a quarterly program called, Going Beyond, Creating Value where team members try to catch others in the act of going beyond at their job or creating value for the client. They nominate these associates for this quarterly award. We encourage team members to give applause to others they work with in weekly notices we send out company wide. We also highlight when a team member is promoted with emails to our entire staff called Leaders on the Move. Seeing other people advance and be supported is a motivator.

We look internally to fill positions before going outside The REMM Group. This provides more promotional opportunities for our team-members.

Thorough training gives our associates confidence. Our supportive environment and open-door policy allows for questions and concerns to be answered right away. They can envision a future in our company, knowing we will continue to provide the support they need to excel.

Work-Life Balance

Women cite the choice to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a block to their success in the workplace. Companies that want the advantages of diversity in leadership need to address this requirement proactively or they will not achieve an equal culture.

The REMM Group embraces work-life balance for all associates and leads by example to show our sincerity. Policies that allow for balance are critical, but they are not enough. If you tolerate an underlying message or culture that shames or denigrates associates for taking their PTO (paid time off), your team members won’t see it as a true option.

The REMM Group takes the challenge to provide adequate and flexible staffing seriously. Where reasonable, we allow work from home. We also invest in technological tools to assist our team members. We benefit from these choices by having engaged, loyal and committed associates.

Gender Equity in Pay

The statistics indicate that women in commercial real estate earn 34% less than men in total earnings (combining salaries, bonuses, and commissions). Companies that that pay women less than competitors will lose valuable employees to those that will provide equal pay. They also leave potential talent undeveloped.

Equal pay provides equal opportunities. Men and women must be equally able to provide themselves and their family with the tools and lifestyle that allows them to excel at work. Pay inequity limits the advancement and satisfaction of women in the workplace. It also keeps companies from having the best possible team.

Seek the Best Culture and Policies, Equity Will Follow

The Keys to Workplace Diversity and Excellence

Five Keys to Diversity

We provide the tools our associates need to succeed, and we monitor and reward their success. Both men and women excel in that environment. The CREW study showed that men also felt the lack of promotional opportunity and mentoring as barriers to their success. Both men and women seek work-life balance and the number one thing both need for job satisfaction is the respect of their co-workers.

The same blocks and same desire for coworker respect and pay equity, are cited in studies about racial diversity. The policies that have led to gender equity at The REMM Group have also given us a corporate management team that is diverse in race and culture.

At The REMM Group, our associates see women in the roles of CEO, COO, Vice President, Directors and Regional Managers. They see diverse women and men equally advanced throughout our company and hired into our organization. They see women and men demonstrate the ability to have a family and a life and to be a leader at work. They know opportunity is available regardless of gender or race.

The best teams bring together diverse points of view, strengths, and talents. Building our amazing team of commercial real estate professionals has required a commitment to training, motivation, and innovation. One of the results is a company that is more diverse than the industry standard. Seek excellence and provide your associates with what they need to excel. That is how you grow into diversity.


Reports Recommended

McKinsey and Company

McKinsey and Company have done extensive research on diversity in the workplace. Their research shows that the benefits of gender equity on a company’s bottom line.


A global look at women in real estate: “In the U.S. women are 54% less likely to have a sponsor, defined as someone who can provide advice and actively help one advance in their career, compared to men.”

2020 Benchmark Study Report by CREW

Detailed information specific to Gender and Diversity in Commercial Real Estate.


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