Last week I had a great evening at the Altus’ holiday party and TREL-sponsored after party, where I had a chance to hobnob with people whose names I know well, but faces I don’t often get to see. The one minuscule misfortune from the evening was the reminder that some people have an inaccurate (and archaic) perception about the role women play in the real estate industry. One man (notice the omission of the “gentle” prefix) stopped me to introduce himself and engage in conversation. The small talk started with the usual… “where do I work and what do I do.” His first assumption was that I do pre-delivery inspections. When I said “No, I don’t do PDI’s” his next guess was that I do colour selections. “No, I replied. I don’t do colour selections either.” He finally gave up and asked me what I “do.” After explaining to him that I focus on key drivers for our business and our brand, related to innovation, culture, talent, CSR, and governance, he got fairly silent, fairly quickly.
I wrapped up the conversation with a succinct “Nice to meet you” and went on my way.
Fortunately, I spent the better portion of the evening getting reacquainted with friends and colleagues who I don’t get to spend enough time with in an informal setting, while also meeting new acquaintances that helped to broaden my network and my mind. A lot of them were women. And yes, it makes me proud to see more females in the room and in the industry. Not based on filling quotas, but on filling a need. And always based on merit. The female engineers, project managers and architects that I met that evening are a testament to an outstanding portfolio of talent that helps to paint the perfect picture of what we know and love about Toronto.
And so “Mr. (gentle) Man,” I forgot to mention, “Yes, I have done PDI’s and colour selections in my past. But so have many of the men that I’ve met along the way. So please don’t paint us all with the stroke of one broad brush. Because it is in our crossing of lines, sharing of roles and mixing of mindsets that we’re able to work together and make this industry a brighter, better place.” The rest of the room was great validation on just that. And with that in mind, thank you Altus and TREL for an incredible evening. Together, we’re making tremendous progress.