Sherry Cushman, Executive Managing Director and Leader of Legal Sector Advisory Group (LSAG), has spent more than 33 years advising legal sector tenants. With more than 350 advisors globally, she coordinates LSAG’s initiatives, business development, and national benchmarking, as well as serving as a thought leader. She is also actively involved with WIN, focusing on the recruitment of women into the real estate industry.
Tell us about what you learned about women, equality, and achievement at the Olympics?
I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and was truly amazed by the dedication, drive, and push of our Olympic athletes, especially the women. Throughout the games, female athletes were excelling in the competition, capturing 12 of Team USA’s 21 medals. This is the first time since 1998 that U.S. women outperformed their male teammates.
Sherry (center), with Elana Meyers Taylor (left) and Lauren Gibbs (right), winners of the silver medal for the USA in the two-women bobsled event.
One of the greatest success stories from this year’s Olympics was the U.S. Women’s hockey team. Tired of being paid less than their male counterparts, the women threatened to sit out the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in 2017 unless they received equal treatment to the men’s team – including the same equipment, staff, publicity, and pay. After 15 months of negotiations, the women were finally provided equal pay and treatment, and then went on to win the gold medal, while the men’s team did not medal.
For many years, I have been involved with U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, which supports both our U.S. men’s and women’s teams at the Olympics. I have seen first-hand the determination required by our athletes, and the dedication needed to win the Gold. Women like Lauren Gibbs, who left a successful corporate job at 31 to become a silver medal winning bobsledder, show the power of not being afraid of going after your dreams.
Why is diversity important in the workplace?
While today’s commercial real estate community has expanded in diversity and female growth, we are still far away from hitting the percentages of women that should and need to be leading the industry. One of the biggest issues that impacts the growth of women in the industry is lack of exposure and guidance into our industry as a whole; hence why we formed an alliance with HOBY (a global initiative focusing on high school age leaders) to make sure young women in high school and college know about the opportunities for women in CRE. The other big issue is the industry providing the support and commitment to women who desire to excel in the industry but feel they must choose between their personal success or having a family. Companies MUST support women having families – through family leave, child care support, flex schedules, remote working, and an overall commitment that women will be provided with the same opportunities as male counterparts if they choose to have a family as well.
In today’s competitive marketplace – in all industries – companies can no longer “check the box” in lip servicing that they are diverse. They have to prove it through increasing female hires, promoting women into senior leadership positions, and providing women with the opportunities to excel. Statistically, when women are provided with leadership opportunities, they excel not just equally, but far beyond the level of their male counterparts.
While many sacrifices have been made over the years, the industry is so incredibly exciting and ever-changing, which keeps each and every day stimulating and challenging. I have no doubt that women entering today’s CRE workforce will have more opportunities and fewer obstacles than the women of the past, as the path has been paved. I am very proud of Cushman & Wakefield’s WIN initiatives and the leadership support at every level towards its success.
Olympian Lauren Gibbs (center) met with members of Cushman & Wakefield’s Washington, DC WIN chapter.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
It is a day to focus on the power of women and reminds us to work every day towards female equality across all aspects of life. During my 33-year career, I have experienced significant improvement in equality of women, but we have a long way to go.
What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
Focus on hard work, provide quality in everything you do, and don’t be afraid of pursuing your goals and dreams based on being a woman in a male-dominated industry. Always work towards becoming an industry expert and develop your own personal style – and own it.