Management Matters: Diversity at the Top

While the commercial real estate industry is struggling to bring diversity to the workplace, the need for diversity in leadership positions is even more acute. Accordingly, Colliers International launched its “Women to the Helm” program. “(It) was our first step toward a formal diversity program,” said Paula Johnson, U.S. human resources manager for Colliers Macaulay Nicolls, the largest member company of Colliers International, & Women to the Helm steering committee co-chair. “We want to be proactive when looking at diversity and recognizing its importance and we want to provide equal opportunity to all people at our company.”The program, which was conceived by CMN president & COO Doug Frye, focuses on creating a culture of inclusion and opportunity at Colliers International. This runs the gamut from increasing the number of women in senior leadership positions to developing mentorship programs and client engagement and local community involvement. “We took a hard look at our senior management and their core competencies to make sure that we are affording the same management opportunities to women,” Johnson explained. “Everyone needs to have the opportunity to receive the training to meet those core competencies.” Since the program was launched in September 2006, CMN has promoted five women to leadership roles. Likewise, Turner Construction Company is working to bring diversity to the construction and development segment of the industry through its subcontractors, noted Matt Papenfus, general manager for Turner Construction Co.’s Texas region. “The impediments aren’t really at the workforce level, but at the company ownership level,” he explained. “We are helping to train and mentor women and minorities to develop skills needed to be owners.”