By Janice O’Neill, Global Head of Talent Management & Diversity at Cushman & Wakefield
At Cushman & Wakefield, we strongly believe that diversity better positions us and our clients for what’s next. Recognizing that the commercial real estate industry historically has had less than stellar gender diversity, we are changing the landscape of our firm and leading the industry when it comes to recruiting women, building and reinforcing an inclusive culture, and improving diversity across all levels and roles within our company.
Not only is increasing gender diversity the right thing to do, but it makes us stronger as a company. People with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences bring more creativity and innovative thought that ultimately results in better solutions for our clients.
And those life experiences include taking time away from a traditional career path to raise children, care for elderly parents or relatives, or pursue other personal enrichment opportunities. As someone who left my corporate job to do consulting work while raising my children, I can empathize with women who are relaunching their careers. I know from experience that there are many skills, such as leading others in volunteering, managing resources and budgets, and organizing and influencing people, that translate to the corporate world. Those who re-enter the corporate world have a different lens on the world and that perspective is hugely valuable and leads to innovation.
Christie Veldhuizen, Vice President of Operations and Designated Broker in our Phoenix office, took time away from her successful accounting career to raise her three children. She regularly volunteered as Treasurer of the PTO at her children’s school and as a Girl Scout troop leader and cookie mom. Roughly 16 years ago, she re-entered the workforce working part-time for the predecessor brokerage firm that is now Cushman & Wakefield in Phoenix, and was quickly promoted to COO/CFO.
“Don’t be afraid to take a step backward when you re-enter the workforce,” Christie says. “If you work hard and prove your value, more opportunities will come your way.”
Marlyn Pauley, an Account Manager for Global Occupier Services’ client Allied Universal, put her career on pause twice to travel the world. While traveling to places such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Marlyn made it a priority to keep in touch with her network. Her connections helped her relaunch her career once she returned from her travels, first in New York City as a broker and agency account director/asset manager and then back home in Los Angeles.
“I was always in constant communication with people in my network, touching base and asking about potential opportunities,” Marlyn says. “People liked my persistence and go-getter attitude, and they were not concerned with the gap on my resume because they knew my experiences and skills were extremely valuable.”
We at Cushman & Wakefield want women with these skills and life experiences, and our work culture allows flexibility for our employees to still dedicate time to their families and maintain a level of balance. Our leadership team is truly committed to the success of women at Cushman & Wakefield, and we have a variety of programs and resources in place to help recruit and advance women.
Our Women’s Integrated Network (WIN), of which I am the current Chair Emeritus, provides a powerful platform that increases visibility into the accomplishments and contributions of our female colleagues within Cushman & Wakefield. WIN’s mission is to develop and support the talents of women team members and provide a network for women at all career levels to engage with each other.
WIN has an established mentoring program that pairs senior leaders, both male and female, with up-and-coming women in our business. In addition, WIN has partnered with the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network as a global sponsor and has access to the organization’s recruitment platform to post jobs and internships.
Our clients have positively commented on our diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, and at times, having diverse teams has been a critical decision-making factor for our clients in why they chose to partner with Cushman & Wakefield. As an example, I recently participated in a pitch and addressed our investment in our corporate D&I initiatives. The client was very impressed with our approach and awarded us the work. Now more than ever, diversity is a true differentiator for our firm and the results we deliver for clients.
So whether you’re just starting your career, relaunching it or looking to take it to the next level, Cushman & Wakefield offers opportunities for personal and professional growth within a culture of support, inclusion and collaboration. Join us and be part of a movement to effect positive change and shape Cushman & Wakefield as the preferred destination for top talent.
Janice O’Neill joined Cushman & Wakefield in early 2015 and is located in the New York Midtown office. She leads Cushman & Wakefield’s Global and Americas Talent Management & Diversity team, responsible for multiple learning programs and talent development initiatives. In her role, Janice leads diversity and inclusion, learning and development, executive succession planning, leadership development, engagement, and performance management. She is the 2019 Chair Emeritus for the Women’s Integrated Network.