In this panel discussion, digital media experts will dive into how brands can position themselves for success with a diversified strategy.
5:30pm - 7:30pm
Join us as we hear from Corey Thomas, Chairman & CEO of Rapid7, and Andrew Farrington, an advisory board member City Awake.
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Join us to celebrate the history, culture, food, and local businesses of Nubian Square, the heart of Black culture in Boston.
3:45pm - 6:00pm
Tropical Foods - Roxbury
Designed for mid-level managers and supervisors, this new certificate program addresses workplace well-being through unique, innovative, and actionable methods.
Join our Transformational DEI Certificate! Our comprehensive learning & development offerings are designed to connect and grow strong leaders who lead both inside and out of the office.
Our Women’s Leadership Program enables you to take your leadership to the next level by arming you with the most in-demand leadership toolkit.
Expand your DEI professional development with a virtual workshop focused specifically on LGBTQIA+ identities and inclusion.
Our Economic Inclusion Committee provides strategic support around research, policies, and programs that are focused on building equal opportunity.
We are developing an ecosystem of corporations and partners with the influence and buying power to transform economic inclusion for minority business enterprises (MBEs).
The Fierce Urgency of Now Festival brings Boston’s diverse young professionals together with business leaders, organizations and their peers to build connection, advance careers and ignite positive change.
City Awake empowers young professionals in a variety of ways that encourages these rising leaders to stay invested in the region’s future success.
BIMA (the Boston Interactive Media Association) serves a vibrant community of like-minded professionals from agencies, brands, publishers, and ad-tech companies with business interests in the New England market.
For more than 25 years, the Chamber’s Women’s Network has connected female professionals of all background and career levels. Today, our Women’s Network is the largest in New England, strengthening the professional networks of women each year.
The Massachusetts Apprentice Network convenes employers, training providers, and talent sources interested in developing and implementing apprenticeship programs in occupations across industries and statewide in fields such as tech, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, and more.
We support small business through public policy initiatives, events designed to connect small businesses in Greater Boston to their peers and established business leaders, professional development offerings, and free small business advising.
Explore our mission and values to better understand how we are leading the business community forward.
Our member directory is your resource to discover, connect, and engage with Boston’s businesses from every industry and sector.
Last month’s “Women Leading Construction & Real Estate Development” panel gathered an inspiring group of women to talk about their careers in industries that many women are still breaking through —construction and real estate development.
Chair of the Women’s Network Advisory Board, Susan Penta, moderated the panel, with panelists Elizabeth Grob, New England Real Estate Market Leader at VHB, Marie Morisset, Founding Partner of Morisset Real Estate and board member of the Builders of Color Coalition, and JC Burton, CEO of general contracting firm Maven Construction.
These construction and real estate industry leaders are committed to bringing more women into these male-dominated industries—an industry that benefits from the unique lens, voice, and approach women can bring. If there was ever a time to see women in places they haven’t been before, it is now. We are living in a transformation. Currently, the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, Treasurer, and Mayor of Boston are all women. As Mayor Wu says, “women cannot seize what they cannot see,” and that is precisely why panels like this are so important.
JC Burton shared that she “loves working at the skyline and knowing she had an impact,” but for many women that look at the skyline, they don’t think “the sky’s the limit for me.” The skyline makes them think of men in work boots and tradesmen (and less often women) building the physical buildings themselves.
To bring more women into this industry, it starts with mentorship. JC shared the personal responsibility she feels for the future of the industry: “People are looking at what I do. I need to bring a group of women and women of color with me. I want some to go ahead of me. I take this as my responsibility.” The first step is going into high schools and colleges and teaching students—especially female students and students of color who don’t see themselves as well-represented in this industry—the full services of real estate and construction jobs. Students need to understand the breadth of what these careers offer, beyond the work being done in the field, to see themselves as a part of these industries.
For Marie Morisset, the barriers to entry in an industry that she found hard to penetrate as a woman led her to start her own firm and launch a fellowship to train developers of color in a way that made sense to them. To her, “opening doors and welcoming people starts with networking, that’s how we create community.” JC added that “to make it accessible, we have to make it more realistic” and to market it differently. This is exactly what the Builders of Color Coalition and other similar organizations do. Marie noted the need for culturally-sensitive training and education on important topics like obtaining funding and the need to help advocate for others.
Diverse communities like Boston require a diverse group of people to support it. Susan adds that “if communities want to be innovative, they need diverse points of view. Women need to know they have something special to offer when they sit around the table.”
If we want to see a change in client relationships and priority in the importance of diverse teams, we need to talk more about diversity in development projects. While BPDA is a voluntary program, Elizabeth implores, “if we want change, we need organizations to step up and offer this information.” It can be as simple as asking the question and making it visible. Without transparency, there is no incentive to report on these initiatives.
Elizabeth continues by saying that 4-5 years ago you wouldn’t have heard much about DE&I efforts, and today that is part of everyday conversations. Diversity is both in thought processes and people. She advocates for “radical inclusivity” and develops teams in her organization that embody this. Gathering in powerful groups like this panel helps to keep the conversations going, and the work still to be done visible.
Boston is one of the oldest cities and as a result there are many fourth and fifth generation construction companies. As JC points out, “people do business with people they know and like, when networks multiply and there are no women in there, you are an outlier.” It took Marie three years to navigate the industry in Boston and Elizabeth had to forge her own connections in Boston, an area where she didn’t have an expansive network. She points out that the stereotype of women challenged to manage work and motherhood to be alive and well, but that the pandemic helped to “soften the edges.” While JC says that the “ceiling is still made of glass and it wasn’t ready for all the innovation bottled up in me,” she wanted to “normalize excellence that looks like her.”
Marie sums things up by saying that “cultural shifts can be uncomfortable, and we have to be ok allowing it to be uncomfortable, on the other side is change.” She advocates for us to recognize and name the barriers and partner with networks to address the issues—from access to capital to getting a job.
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