When hundreds of thousands of people pack into Chicago’s Grant Park on Saturday, January 18 as part of Women’s March 2020, the supporters will be stumping several progressive issues, including climate change, gun violence prevention and women’s health rights and access. Another vocal message, however, will be a call for more diversity in the hiring practices of CRE firms and the wider business community.
“I am not proud of the rooms I have sat in where there were discriminatory comments about people’s religion, ethnicity, gender or sex. If it makes me uncomfortable, then I can’t imagine the feelings on the receiving end of such words,” said Sheila Loberg, CEO of SHEcon.
As a female entrepreneur in construction and real estate, diversity is one of the fundamental drivers of her hiring principles. Loberg, who will be marching in solidarity during the event, challenges the status quo of an antiquated industry, noting that gender is just one of the many areas where the commercial real estate and construction industries can often exhibit a lack of diversity.
“As a Caucasian female, it’s my duty to recognize that not only is my gender severely underrepresented in this industry but also that we have a lack of diversity at large,” Loberg said.
Loberg started her own business in an effort to promote diversity and lead the way for others. At the core of its name, ‘she,’ is incorporated to attract the type of business that wants to work with women. She hopes to surround herself with people, employees, partners and opportunities that lead to safe and productive professional environments for all.
SHEcon is active in the community and supports the Goldie Initiative, a scholarship and mentorship program for women pursuing graduate education in the real estate field. She was a recent scholar herself and attributes much of her success to the learning, mentoring and encouragement she received from the program.
Loberg points out that there are various professional organizations that encourage diversity through their programming and leadership, such as the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). She encourages firms to support higher education and programs such as the Goldie Initiative that emphasize representing women’s success in the industry.