WDM’s Michelle Weiss and Ware Malcomb’s Cynthia Milota share 5 key themes from the CREW Network global conference in Chicago.
Last month, the CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network global conference blew into the Windy City, bringing together over 1300 commercial real estate leaders for three days of deal making, business networking, industry education and leadership development.
The sold-out CREW Network conference experience was more than amazing insightful conversations, this was a safe place to show up as yourself, make connections, think out of the box, no apologies, no code switching, owning the power of women in commercial real estate. Curated here are five standout themes from the conference:
1. Follow the Talent
Organizations are acknowledging that talent has dispersed from traditional urban hub locations. Finding employees based on where they went to school, or where they moved during the pandemic is informing new location strategies. Using this talent demographic data is also bringing new insights into Hub and Spoke models. CREW research finds that:
Many workers have reoriented their priorities…based on where they want to live instead of where they want to work.
– CREW 2022
2. Places for Wellness
Health and wellness services on-site are including medical and dental along with alternative offerings such as counseling, acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage. Corporate organizations and building owners are increasingly partnering with health care systems, by renting space for medical/health care services and providing curated wellness-oriented programming.
Offering wellness services on campus is a differentiator for our properties.
– CREW Conference attendee
3. Generational Values and ESG
Applying ESG (environmental, social and governance) practices have become common place as organizational metrics for investors. Increasingly younger professionals are assessing employment opportunities based on an organization’s ESG practices and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals). Corporate net zero carbon initiatives and organizational commitment to sustainability are significant issues in talent acquisition.
A company’s culture and values are more important to Gen Z than salary and benefits.
– CREW conference attendee
4. DEI: Not New News for the CREW Audience
A diverse, equitable and inclusive model is at core of the CREW Network organization and this conference experience. CREW research finds “female employees at organizations fostering genuine diversity, equity, and inclusion, report higher levels of engagement, trust, and satisfaction…. (which) will keep (them) working for that company longer because of its inclusive culture,” (CREW 2022). Creating a culture of belonging at a systemic level fosters a shared sense of identity, destiny, values, and a sense of interdependence. People are allowed / encouraged to full be themselves, (Wilkins, 2022).
Don’t call people out, call them in.
– LaTonya Wilkins
5. Hybrid Will be Recession Resistant
Hybrid work and employee demands for flexibility will be resistant to any upcoming economic adjustment. CREW research supports the significance of a hybrid schedule, with 70% of respondents favoring a company with flexible work arrangements, (CREW 2022). Keynote speaker, economist Marci Rossell cited labor as the biggest issue for the global economy. Speaking of the labor shortage and shrinking birth rates, she says,
It’s not like they do not want to work, they were never born.
– Rossell, 2022
Additional CREW insights:
- The concept of Habit stacking is the new workplace service amenity to re-insert the office into the daily routine. Amenities such as health care, the dry cleaners or day care at the office location ensure consistent integration into the day. (CREW conference attendee)
- The question is no longer where to work, but rather when to work. (CREW conference attendee)
- You work out at the gym and pray at church, so why the resistance to work from an office? (CREW conference attendee)
- Personalized amenities like the personal trainers at our gyms keeps me incentivized to come in regularly. (CREW conference attendee)
- Corporate Real Estate departments are increasingly moving from the Finance organization to the Human Resources team. (CREW conference attendee)
- In the experience economy, time is currency. (CREW conference attendee)
- Sustainable topics to watch: solar as an environmental amenity; code updates surrounding EV charging requirements; solar land use topics conflicting with indigenous peoples and mining interests. (CREW conference attendees)
- Workplace strategy is good for employees and great for organizations. (Mary Cheval, Speaker)
- Encourage experimentation and challenge the results. (Isilay Civan, Speaker)
- It’s important to maintain rituals. Take the study on firemen by Kevin Knifflin out of Cornell University. The studies showed that firemen who ate together saved more lives. (Erica Keswin, Speaker)
- DEI and leadership: people who are different, lead differently. (LaTonya Wilkins, Speaker)
- Life can only really be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. (Soren Kierkegaard, he was not present at the CREW Network conference)
- Your value does not lie in what you do. (Jill Donovan, Speaker)
– LPL Financial
The 2022 CREW Network Foundation Scholars were also announced at the conference. They are a diverse group of 30 women, representing all aspects of the commercial real estate industry. They are bullish on making personal connections, virtually and face to face. Their personal stories exude determination and hustle. Thanks to the 2022 CREW Network Global Conference in Chicago, the CREW Scholars and attendees made connections, learned from one another, and increased the power and diversity of their networks.
We are already looking forward to next September for the 2023 Convention in Atlanta!
- CREW Network, 2022. “Building the CRE Workforce of the Future: Creating a More Inclusive Industry for All,” Retrieved from https://crewnetwork.org/getmedia/0ef24461-c9ca-4ebf-a2fc-49cb55438c3a/crew-network-building-the-cre-workforce-of-the-future.pdf.aspx
- Donovan, Jill, 2022. “Goodbye Glue, Hello Growth-Getting Unstuck form Bad Breaks and Heartache,” Link to CREW Network Presentation, https://crewnetwork.org/microsites/conventions/2022/schedule/9-22/opening-program-and-keynote-with-jill-donovan-good
- Rossell, Marci, 2022. “What’s Next: the Global Economic Outlook and its Impact on CRE with Marci Rossell,” Link to CREW Network Presentation, https://crewnetwork.org/microsites/conventions/2022/schedule/9-22/lunch-program-%e2%80%93-what-s-next-the-global-economic-ou
- Wilkins, LaTonya, 2022. “Creating a Culture of Belonging While Leading below the surface,” Link to CREW Network Presentation, https://crewnetwork.org/microsites/conventions/2022/schedule/9-22/how-to-create-a-culture-of-belonging-while-leading
- Keswin, Erica, 2022. “Now What: How to Bring Rituals to Work During Turbulent Times”, Link to CREW Network Presentation, https://crewnetwork.org/microsites/conventions/2022/schedule/9-22/now-what-how-to-bring-rituals-to-work-in-turbulent
- Civan, Isilay and Cheval, Mary, 2022. “Workplace Strategy”, Link to CREW Description https://crewnetwork.org/microsites/conventions/2022/schedule/9-22/workplace-strategy