What to do about gender bias? Don’t accept it

What to do about gender bias? Don’t accept it

“He said, ‘Barbara, if you were a man, I would hire you today.  But since you’re a female, I’m not going to hire you.’” Barbara Black’s retelling of her first attempt to enter the commercial real estate industry was an emotional kick off to the CREW-Miami August luncheon.

Barbara is currently managing partner at JLL, the second largest real estate brokerage in the nation.

Joining her for the luncheon and panel discussion were Florida Bar President and managing partner at Burr & Forman LLP’s Tampa office Bill Schifino; incoming president and managing director of Gray Robinson and former Florida Bar president Mayanne Downs; partner at Bilzin Sumberg Al Dotson; and principal of Fairchild Partners Maria Juncadella.  Former television news anchor and reporter Cynthia Demos moderated the panel.

In addition to sharing stories, the panelist offered the following advice for the women and men in the audience, which included commercial real estate and legal industry professionals:

  • Beware of the ‘Glass Cliff”: Maria Juncadella pointed out that while women are now getting tapped on the shoulder for leadership roles, it is often happening when companies are at a precarious place and desperate for change. These women are breaking the glass ceiling but then finding themselves faced with a glass cliff. She advises surrounding yourself with other company leaders and industry advisers who can help guide and support you to achieve success.
  • Find mentors:“If you can’t get mentoring within your business, you can get it by networking in outside groups,” said Barbara Black. She recommends joining industry and business groups who can provide advice, mentorship and career development.
  • Men need to be part of the solution:“Often, men are missing from this conversation,” said Al Dotson.  Al urged employers to bring men and women to the table to discuss the unconscious biases that continue to exist and work together on creating and enforcing solutions that will be most beneficial for the organization.
  • Ask for what you want:“Here’s what you do about gender pay gaps: You don’t accept it,” said Mayanne Downs, who stresses that when it comes to compensation, women have a right and responsibility to ask for fair and adequate compensation.

The panel came about after recent studies from CREW Network and The Florida Bar show that women are still dealing with gender bias and a wide wage gap.  Bill Schifino shared that Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division survey found that 43 percent of young female lawyers still face gender bias and harassment in the workplace.

The CREW Network Benchmark Study indicates that while career satisfaction and optimism among women in commercial real estate is improving, a 23.3% median wage gap between men and women remains.

Today, women make up just over a third of judges and 38% of the Florida Bar’s membership.  “No, it’s not enough,” said Bill Schifino, “There’s a lot of work to do, but we’re getting there.”

Panel discussion

To view the event photo album, click here.