Normalcy surrounding women in leadership is there, according to Natalie Diaz. It’s the representation that’s missing.
Diaz, chief of staff for Time Equities Inc. (TEI)—a full-service real estate firm with properties in 30 states, five Canadian provinces, Germany, the Netherlands and Anguilla—worked her way up the ladder in her real estate career. In 2011, she started out as the executive assistant to the CEO and director of public relations. In her current role, she oversees human resources and manages interdepartmental communication to guide the long-term vision for the company.
Here’s what she shared with RISMedia about working her way up the rungs, recognizing where change can be enacted and how those pursuing a leadership position can achieve their goals.
What is your take on female leadership in the real estate space?
Natalie Diaz: Because of the high barrier to entry, the real estate industry has long been known as a “boys’ club.” But that is a generalization. I believe there is great importance in recognizing the specifics of gender disparity in the real estate industry.
I think it is clear that real estate is still a male-dominated profession, especially when it comes to leadership roles. But major firms and owners of real estate are finally starting to recognize the value of diversifying their workforce, and we are slowly starting to see things change and more women in power across the industry. It will take time, but diversity is becoming more widespread in our industry.
What excites you most about your career?
ND: I am most excited about the creative and innovative opportunities in the industry. Sustainability is a huge one. At Time Equities, we have a fantastic sustainability team (comprised of two extremely bright women) that has already begun various analyses and proposals to reduce our carbon emissions—not just from our building operations, but also from our business travel, our consumption and waste practices, and more.
In design, it’s architecture, interior design and spatial design that reflects current trends around how people use space. Experiential retail is here, the mobile office and social workspaces are in demand, and the fantastical amenitization of residential projects is here. Our new residential development in Chicago, 1000M, features a Himalayan salt room, a golf simulator, and more.
Finally, technology. Real estate has been slow to adopt new technology, but CRE tech seems to have exploded over the past five years. It will be fascinating to see how 5G and other technologies evolve the buying, selling and management of properties.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned?
ND: Let your values guide you. Support and lift up others. Be empathic. Listen. Stay true to your goals and to your mission, even if it’s not easy or not a popular opinion. Stand your ground. Seek out a corporate environment that is in line with your values and goals, so that your work can be full of integrity and can be rewarding. And, of course, work hard and always deliver the best possible work product you can.
Thinking back on your career, what’s one thing you’d change if you had the opportunity to go back?
ND: I would coach myself to take more risks, speak up more and do the internal work necessary to build up my confidence sooner. It’s really hard as a young woman first entering the workforce to have that confidence, sense of self and conviction that will take your career farther in a shorter amount of time. Imposter syndrome is real, especially when you find yourself in an industry that you are not traditionally trained or educated in.
More broadly, we should teach women to apply for those jobs they want but may not fully qualify for. We should teach women to be assertive and confident in their careers without fear of being labeled “difficult” or worse. We should hold a mirror up to sexism, whether it is conscious or subconscious, overt or subtle.
What’s one piece of advice you can give to anyone looking to step into a leadership role?
ND: Be that great boss that inspires your team, treats them fairly and with respect, invites different points of view, and ultimately motivates by example. Listen and rely on the expertise of others, but stand your ground on decisions that are yours, and only yours, to make. And always keep your eye on the big picture and your ultimate objective. Assess and reassess your progress and the level of impact you have made toward your ultimate objective.
Do you know someone who is making strides toward the advancement of women leadership in the real estate industry? Contact email@example.com to learn more about our Women in Real Estate series.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.