The commercial real estate (CRE) sector has the potential to become a lucrative career for many people. But if you’re just starting, feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a rut, or want to take the next step in your professional growth, partnering with a mentor is a great idea. And if you’re a woman, you would likely benefit from the additional support a mentor-mentee relationship provides.
Challenges women face in CRE
As of 2020, women comprised just over 36% of the CRE industry. If you’re a woman working in CRE, you already face other challenges in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
- Pay inequality: Women still receive less financial compensation than their male counterparts. 65% of respondents in one survey found they received lower compensation than their male counterparts (an average of 25% less) at some point, with an income gap of about 23%, according to Bisnow.
- A lack of leadership roles: Women remain underrepresented in leadership roles in CRE. One Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network study found that only 19% of CRE executives are women.
- Career advancement: Women in CRE often face challenges in advancing their careers. According to one study, women are less likely than men to be promoted to senior-level positions, with 61% saying they had been bypassed for an assignment, job, or listing at least once, 82% reporting they’d been overlooked more than once, and 52% noting it had happened three or more times.
- Gender discrimination: Women in CRE may face gender discrimination from clients, colleagues, and bosses, with up to 40% of these women experiencing gender discrimination, according to a study by NAR. And more than half of these women have reported experiencing sexual harassment.
- Lack of mentorship: Women also experience difficulty finding mentors who can help them navigate the industry. According to a Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network study, only 38% of women in CRE have a mentor.
Everyone Benefits from a Mentor-Mentee Relationship
Mentoring is important in commercial real estate because it allows experienced professionals to share their knowledge and expertise with those newer to the industry. Mentors can help mentees:
- Develop their skills and career goals
- Network with other professionals to help build relationships and expand their network.
- Navigate the challenges of the commercial real estate market.
- Advance their careers by helping mentees identify strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and develop plans to achieve them.
- Identify and pursue new opportunities which can lead to more clients, higher earnings, and career advancement.
- Increase their confidence and self-assurance.
- Access other resources, including information, contacts, and opportunities.
But these relationships benefit mentees and mentors, too. Mentors gain satisfaction from helping others succeed, and mentees benefit from their mentors’ knowledge and experience.
To build this relationship, explore professional organizations, networking events, and online forums. Here are some additional tips for finding and working with a mentor in commercial real estate:
- Clarify your goals and expectations, communicating what you’re looking for from a relationship when you reach out to a potential mentor.
- Prepare to put in the work because mentoring is a two-way street. Come with questions, listen to your mentor’s advice, and put it into practice.
- Respect your mentor’s time to ensure your meetings are productive.
- Express gratitude for your mentor’s guidance and support.
Mentoring is a rewarding experience that can benefit both the mentor and the mentee. By following these best practices, you can make the most of your mentoring relationship and help your mentee to achieve their goals.
Tips for Being an Exceptional Mentor
Mentoring often evolves into a long-term relationship, but it takes time to build trust and rapport. It’s a commitment, so before you agree to this partnership, ensure you’re willing to invest the time and energy it deserves. Set clear expectations at the beginning of your relationship, including meeting frequency, topics you’ll discuss, and goals you hope to achieve.
One of the most important things you can do as a mentor is to listen to your mentee — and be open to their feedback and suggestions. Be willing to learn because as much as you’re teaching your mentee, you’re also learning from them. Invite their ideas and perspectives — they just might change your own thinking!
Also important? Honesty. Sugarcoating things is rarely the best approach. Instead, be constructive and helpful. Your mentee will likely face challenges throughout their career — you probably have, too — so offer support and encouragement, but don’t varnish the truth. Stay positive and encouraging, helping your mentee to focus on their strengths and to believe in themselves.
Be flexible with your mentee’s needs because they may require different things at different times, and that’s okay. Maintain confidentiality, avoiding the temptation to share your mentee’s information with others before you get permission.
Tips for Being an Exceptional Mentee
To start, if you want a mentor, be proactive. Take the initiative rather than sitting around waiting to be “discovered.” You’ll wait a long time. Reach out to people whom you admire and trust. Introduce yourself and explain what you’re looking for — and then schedule an introductory meeting or two.
If you have other friends or colleagues in a mentorship, ask them for a connection, too. Before you meet, do your research, taking time to learn about their background and experience, which will help you maximize your time together.
Once you’ve found your mentor, come to each meeting with your goals, a list of questions or topics you’d like to discuss — and an open mind. Even if it’s not what you wanted (or hoped) to hear, listen to your mentor’s advice, and be willing to consider new ideas and perspectives. Show your mentor respect by attending your meetings on time, prepared, and ready to hear their suggestions.
Be yourself — not someone you aren’t. Be honest with your mentor about your goals, challenges, needs, and what you hope to achieve. And know that a good mentor will challenge you and expect you to put in the work. Your willingness to do so will help make the relationship successful.
While cliché, it’s also apt that Rome wasn’t built in a day — and your mentoring relationship will take time to evolve, too. Results don’t happen overnight — and that’s okay.
Finally, have fun! Mentoring should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, so take time to enjoy the process and your growth. Many mentor-mentee relationships evolve into a more profound, richer friendship providing both people with a valuable source of support and companionship, leading to increased satisfaction with careers and lives.
Are you a commercial real estate investor or looking for a specific property to meet your company’s needs? We invite you to talk to the professionals at CREA United: an organization of CRE professionals from 92 firms representing all disciplines within the CRE industry, from brokers to subcontractors, financial services to security systems, interior designers to architects, movers to IT, and more.