You might think that in 2019 women wouldn’t need to get together and remind one another to speak up in meetings in order to be taken seriously at work. But as it turns out, we do.

I recently attended a “Boston Power Women” event honoring a number of impressive women in the commercial real estate field for their achievements to date and contributions to the Boston market. It felt great to be in a room surrounded by (mostly) women recognizing the hard work of other spectacular power women. However, thinking back, the event felt more like a seminar on how to be taken seriously in male-dominated industries (as these events often feel). I think it’s hugely important to celebrate women’s success, but I’d really love to see these types of women-focused events move more in a direction that truly recognizes the contributions that women are making in their industries.

Similarly, I’d love to see more men attending and supporting the women being recognized at these events. There is no lack of female support for men attaining greatness in their fields, and that same level of support should exist for women achieving their goals. Let’s not forget, many of the women being applauded at these events are business owners and leaders of large corporate teams who often manage dozens if not hundreds of male (and female) employees.

Nonetheless, there was certainly a lot to learn from the power women being honored at this specific event.  Each panelist had great advice for women (and men) looking to step up in their professional lives including:

  • “Begin with the end in mind and have your goals inform what you do.” – Judith Nitsch, Founding Principal of Nitsch Engineering
  • “You are responsible for your own success. Sitting around and waiting for things to happen to you just doesn’t work.” – Kristin Blount, Executive Vice President at Colliers International
  • “Take the lead: You don’t need to be in a leadership position to lead.” – Leslie Cohen, Chief Operating Officer of Samuels & Associates
  • “Be confident and ask questions; be comfortable not being an expert.” – Julie Zelermyer Perlman, Development Manager at Bozzuto Development Company

Hearing these women speak and answer tough questions from the audience regarding the apparent lack of diversity in the CRE industry, and their experiences in line with the Me Too movement, made me realize that there’s still plenty of room to grow in terms of including and celebrating individuals in their careers regardless of gender, race, religious background, etc. At least we’re headed in the right direction.