It’s no secret that the number of women in management positions is well below those occupied by men. But that is not true for all companies. One global real estate firm has been a tremendous advocate for women management roles. ServCorp, a visionary in flexible workspaces, has supported women in management since 1978. Despite the global real estate market being dominated by men, roughly 90 percent of ServCorp’s members are women. In fact, ServCorp boasts more women in management positions than men as well. Are ServCorp’s women management philosophies the underlying reason for the firm’s success?
How ServCorp Stumbled Upon Its Success
ServCorp was founded in 1978 by owner Alfred Moufarrige with a vision of being a global real estate firm. Seeking to market planned properties, ServCorp secured a rather pricey office space in downtown Sydney, Australia. But with leases and staffing eating up revenues, ServCorp looked to cut costs by sharing office space. The concept was so popular that ServCorp decided to shift gears. Today, ServCorp is a market leader in flexible workspaces, virtual offices, and coworking opportunities.
So, what does this have to do with ServCorp’s commitment to women in management? Quite a bit, actually. Part of ServCorp’s services include access to communications, software, as well as staffing. As a result, ServCorp hired a number of receptionists and office assistants who happened to be predominantly women. ServCorp’s belief in meritocracy turned out to be an important factor supporting women management beliefs. For those women committed to excel, they were able to advance into management positions. Females now comprise the vast majority of the firm including ServCorp’s top management team.
Women Management Profiles at ServCorp Today
Out of ServCorp’s one thousand employees, roughly 900 are women. In addition, ServCorp has approximately 50 women in middle management positions and 20 women in senior management roles. By comparison, the same figures for men are 10 and 9 respectively. Of these women management positions at ServCorp, the vast majority began in much less prestigious roles. Women in management at ServCorp’s offices in Australia, Japan, and the Middle East began as office and marketing assistants. Over the years, however, these women attained high-level management positions at ServCorp through merit rewards.
One of ServCorp’s most notable women in management is Michelle Burrell. She began as a receptionist in 2016 with ServCorp. But today, Burrell is the ServCorp Center manager at One Word Trade.
Burrell has several pieces of advice when it comes to women wanting management positions. The first is to seek companies that reward merit. Women are much more likely to attain management positions in such firms. Also, Burrell suggest looking for companies that have women management opportunities not only vertically but laterally as well. Such firms tend to be more forward thinking when it comes to women in management.
Is ServCorp’s Predominance of Women in Management Roles Ideal?
With many women in management positions at ServCorp, one might question if this is best for the firm. According to Servcorp’s Senior Vice President, Selene Ng, she believes more women in management has been very positive. Specifically, she notes that while women can be just as competitive as men, women tend to be more supportive. In other words, women pursue advancement into management positions. But in the process of seeking management roles, women are more collaborative and enjoy working as a team. Ng, who was previously in male-dominated industries, has been pleasantly surprised at ServCorp and the women management culture there.
Advancement based on merit is the key for ServCorp in terms of the effectiveness of women in management positions. ServCorp is not alone in this regard. Several other successful firms have a high number of women in management positions.
At Sephora, women in management occupy 78 percent of the executive level positions at the company. At Build-a-Bear, the number of women serving management roles is 86 percent. And women occupy 4 out of every 5 executive management positions at the American Heart Association. Not only have women in management been effective at ServCorp, but they have been effective for other firms as well.
Growing Opportunities for Women in Management
While ServCorp was visionary in its women management philosophy years ago, today opportunities for women in management continue to grow. Organizations are promoting women in management by encouraging larger numbers of women on executive boards. Likewise, advancing opportunities for women entrepreneurs exist as funding sources expand. For ServCorp, the ability to showcase the talents of women in management roles was fortuitous. For other companies, investing in women management opportunities may prove to be a key to success as well.