The Diversity Effect: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities of an Inclusive Workplace

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JLL gathers expert panel to discuss diversity & inclusion

Over the next few years, businesses large and small will find themselves in a talent war.  As eligible, skilled  candidates grow harder to recruit and retain, it will be critical for companies to become more diverse and inclusive.

With this in mind,  JLL’s Florida Women’s Business Network brought together a panel of experts to have an engaging dialogue on how organizations can position themselves for long-term success by building a diverse talent pool.


The panel consisted of: Mayanne Downs, President of law firm GrayRobinson; Allie Braswell, Founder of The Braswell Group; Natalee Gleiter, Vice President at JLL in Orlando; Kim Burke, Principal of the Craddock Group; and Grant Clarke, Vice President and Director of Diversity and Inclusion for JLL Americas. The panel moderator was Susan Elliott-Rink, Managing Director at the Institute for Gender Partnership. It was held on Nov. 17 at the Citrus Club in Orlando.

Here are six tips the panelists gave for organizations to increase diversity within their workforce:

Get involved from the beginning:

Panelist Allie Braswell discussed the importance of employers taking concrete steps towards a more diverse workplace. He suggests working with the human resources team to compile a diverse candidate pool when hiring for a particular position.

Less Talking, More Listening: 

Listening is imperative, added panelist Kim Burke. “Listen to what they [employees] need, what their ideas area, listen to what they have to say.” She encourages managers and employees to listen to the quieter colleagues in the room and create opportunities for them to speak-up.


Get People Together:

JLL has created a number of  employee resource groups  specifically targeted towards women, Latinos, African Americans, as well as the LGBT and Veteran community.  The goal of these groups is to bring like-minded employees together who share similar interests and experiences. These groups not only help attract, develop and retain diverse talent, but they can also foster a more inclusive environment, as well as create potential business opportunities.


Encourage Accountability & Awareness:

Leadership must be committed to the process, said panelist Mayanne Downs, the first woman to become a managing partner of Gray Robinson in Florida.  Objectives and performance criteria must be set to ensure employees are adhering to the policies. She pointed to how education and awareness are imperative to better understanding one’s own natural tendencies of bias and counteracting them.

Overcoming the Hurdles:

Every employee at every  level of an organization must embrace diversity and inclusion, panelist Natalee Gleiter stated. She pointed out that although men and women receive the same brokerage fees in commercial real estate, the same opportunities for pitching a big piece of business are not often equal.


Mayanne Downs, Natalee Gleiter, Allie Braswell, Kim Burke, Grant Clarke, Kathryn Fudge and Susan Elliott-Rink

Get Men Engaged as well: 

Moderator Susan Elliott-Rink, who has been working to advance the rights and opportunities for women in the workplace for more than 25 years, says during this period the dial has only moved one degree in terms of the number of women in leadership roles in the business. Looking ahead, she says the missing piece is men being involved in the conversations.

With these labor force projections in mind, now is the time for companies to lay the foundation for strong diversity and inclusion programs.

By the Numbers:

  • About 23 million open jobs are expected in the US by 2020 but there are not enough qualified individuals to occupy those positions, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Of that job’s figure, about 1.4 million will be technology-related jobs.
  • About 70% of college degrees are going to be earned by women in the near future
  • The percentage of women with direct reports is now on par with their male counterparts. While men’s direct reports were evenly split on the basis of gender, 62% of the direct reports to women managers were also women.
  • Of the incoming workforce across the nation, about 85% consists of women and minorities.
  • About 35% of Florida Bar members consist of women, while about 50% of law school students currently are women.
  • Approximately 23% of law firm shareholders are women, but only 2% are managing partners.
  • In 2015, the industry median annual compensation was $115,000 for women and $150,000 for men – an average income gap of 23.3%. The income gap was widest in the C-suite at 29.8%.