Organized by Houston’s ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) committee, our latest Leadership Luncheon focused on “Achieving Inclusive Leadership in the Real Estate Industry.”
The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) within ULI was formed to focus on the following objectives:
- Promote the advancement of women, throughout their careers, as leaders in the real estate industry.
- Increase the number of women who serve in leadership positions in the real estate industry and in ULI.
- Increase the visibility and diversity of women leaders in the real estate industry and in ULI.
- Increase the number of women who are active ULI Full members.
- Support the development of young women members as leaders in ULI and in their professions.
The well-attended luncheon highlighted these objectives and featured a panel of knowledgeable real estate leaders who discussed how the industry can create workplaces that embrace inclusivity and the advancement of talented women.
The panel consisted of Greg Erwin, shareholder and co-chair of Winstead PC’s Real Estate Development and Investments Practice Group; Erica Siegel Henning, vice president and portfolio manager of Lionstone Investments and chair of the Houston WLI committee; and Sherri W. Schugart, senior managing director and CEO of Core Fund, REIT & BDC Group and president and CEO of Hines U.S. Core Office Fund, Hines REIT, Hines Global REIT, Hines Global REIT II and HMS Income Fund. Moderating the panel was Wendy Rowden, president of 42nd Street Development Company.
Panelists spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion from different perspectives. Erica Siegel Henning, chair of Houston’s WLI, stressed the importance of collaborating with a diverse group of leaders to share ideas and thoughts from different perspectives to enable smarter business choices. The consistent theme was that diversity and inclusiveness improves a company’s bottom line.
Wendy Rowden spoke about the programs in WLI across the United States and their efforts to encourage women — especially young women and women of color — to enter the real estate business.
The panel provided insight on several key topics to ensure professional growth, including:
- Women need to take challenging assignments outside of their comfort zones.
- Mentorship of women is important, regardless of where a woman is in her career.
- Women need to network through organizations such as ULI to keep updated on business trends and to create professional relationships.
- Flexible work hours and family leave policies are important for both men and women and encourage women to join the real estate profession.
- Facetime allows employees to work from home and maintain a flexible work schedule that allows for family time. Work is no longer measured by how much time is spent in the office.
- Organizations are expanding locations where they recruit to increase the pool of strong female candidates. For example, opportunities in the real estate industry can be communicated to high school students or other college degrees other than business schools.
- Diversity and inclusiveness improve a company’s bottom line. Their ability to be flexible and open to diversity increases the company’s growth.
- All organizations must make changes and find innovative ways to encourage more diversity if the real estate industry is to remain strong.
Committee members planning the event included Erica Siegel Henning, Ceci Arreola, Abbey Roberson, Cortney Cole, Susan Hill, Julie Stephenson, Ashley Fatjo, Jennifer Fogle and Jennifer Raymond.
We would like to thank the following companies who supported the event by sponsoring tables:
Planned Community Developers
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