I’ve seen all the latest updates on the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, yet it somehow manages to shock me each time I hear of something new happening.
There’s really no way to prepare you for what happened, so I’ll come right out with it.
On a recent National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts panel, billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell commented that his company promotes executives based on ability, not gender. He contrasted this with other companies that just want to “get more p**** on the block.”
Then, it wasn’t until five days later, after complaints from executives and board members at REITs, that he finally apologized. Not himself, in person, but through a spokesperson he “expressed regret.”
“Mr. Zell’s language was completely unacceptable and is not welcome at Nareit-sponsored events, or in our view, anywhere else,” Nareit Chairman Thomas Baltimore and CEO Steven Wechsler said in an email. “His language does not represent Nareit’s values, nor does it represent the values of the women and men who work in the industry we represent.”
It may not represent the industry’s views, but doesn’t it represent its acceptance of this type of behavior? After all, this isn’t the first time Zell has behaved in this way, and he was still invited to speak.
Back in April, at a panel discussion at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Zell answered a question about his company’s investments in Argentina, saying, “Argentina is like a beautiful woman — her greatest asset is a man’s imagination.”
It doesn’t surprise me that there are still people in this world who somehow think speaking like this is okay – they will dig their own graves. But as an industry, how are they not shunned? How are they still being asked to speak at major events?
A HousingWire guest blogger asked the same question a few months back in reference to Rob Chrisman, and his daily emails which include “jokes” at the bottom that are often sexist and disgusting.
Now, some members of the mortgage industry are starting to speak out. mPower, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s empowerment group for women, released surprising data at the MBA Secondary conference in New York City.
It found in a poll that 75% of women reported having experienced a least one work-related sexual harassment incident. Now, it’s fighting to overcome that stat.
But the only way we will be able to truly make any changes if we refuse to accept this type of behavior. At some point we need to say enough is enough. And if you ask me, enough was enough a long time ago.