ULI San Francisco Blog

The Bottom Line Imperative (Women’s Leadership Initiative)

The following post is a recap of WLI’s event, Human Resources Roundtable – The Bottom Line Imperative, June 18, 2018

In the wake of the #MeToo Movement and recent reports like those from the LeanIn Institute and McKinsey & Company being released, social awareness of the gender and diversity gap within leadership has come to the forefront of our daily interactions and news outlets. How do we start to tackle these issues within an organization? What are the various initiatives within real estate and tech that are driving hiring and promotion decisions?

To start discussion around these questions, the WLI SF committee brought together hiring and decision leaders from a variety of organizations to start a very candid conversation around proposed initiatives, challenges they have faced with policy implementation, and how the political environment has shaped how we address issues of diversity and inclusion. WLI  feels it truly takes collaboration and sharing of learning lessons to assist with execution ideas. Our goal is to improve the overall company diversity and the initiatives for both hiring and retaining diverse candidates.

WLI wants to thank your mediator  Bill Whitlow of Terra Search Partners, and our amazing table of leaders which included representatives from companies that all have unique characteristics of size, location, specialties, and cultures.



The conversation opened by identifying the current state of the workplace. What are, if any, the existing initiatives and challenges?

Existing initiatives amongst the panel included:

  • Leadership and skills training
  • Mentoring
  • Career development through participation in outside organizations.
  • Scholarships Programs
  • Grassroots, employee initiatives

Many of the initiatives mentioned were admittedly undefined and mostly informal. Participants claimed that even though some of these initiatives were in place, there was still a need to continue the conversation by maximizing engagement within leadership by bringing awareness of these initiatives through all internal department levels.

In regards to the political landscape, it was noted that the impact of our political environment and the #MeToo movement has seemingly created a fear and further division within the workplace. These divisions include low male participation in women created events and fear of insult to the opposite gender, positing a culture of silence. Additionally, a question was proposed: Is the fear of immigration is leading to performance issues? It was specifically mentioned as it relates to our employees under the DACA Policy.

Hiring Directives and Strategies: How do we take immediate steps to make real changes? 

As we all know, data does have power in making the business case study.  There are several studies supporting the overall benefit to the bottom line when hiring diverse candidates – please see one of the studies: https://womenintheworkplace.com/

Immediate diversity initiatives

  • Diverse interview panels from different departments.
  • Directed outreach to diverse candidates, potentially employing an outside agency.
  • Asking the question: Is your in-house leadership diverse at every department level?
  • To encourage diversity in applicants: Showing diversity at the company (Web + social media presence)
  • Employ and encourage a Woman + Diversity Council

Overall, a common conclusion was the need to amplify voices. By first creating a safe environment that promotes conversation and offer listening sessions where all ranks, genders and ethnicities have room for discussion, we create an organic platform and road map to embracing an inclusive culture. It was in agreement that leadership buy in is imperative and understanding the benefits of diverse leadership is key.



 Gender Diversity Leads to Better Performance

A recent Credit Suisse report finds that companies with more women in decision-making roles continue to generate higher market returns and superior profits.

VIEW SOURCE and www.paradigm4parity.com

Strong Female Leadership Provides Financial Returns

MSCI found that companies with a strong female leadership averaged a 10% return on equity annually, 3% higher than companies without strong female leadership.

VIEW SOURCE and www.paradigm4parity.com


We hope that our discussion would inspire others to make a commitment to diversity and inclusion within their workplace and challenge the “Business as Usual.”


Written by: Bianca Koutsakos, Neoscape

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