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Women seek equality in sea of suits

Seeking equality in a sea of suits

professional buisness people in a meeting

Only a few days after Hillary Clinton announced that she was running for President, the internet’s collective head nearly exploded when a Texas CEO publicly asserted that women have no business in the Oval Office. Cheryl Rios, chief executive officer of Go Ape Marketing in Dallas, proclaimed to her Facebook followers that “A female shouldn’t be President.” She then not only stood by her statement but then escalated the campaign against her gender, telling a Dallas TV station, “There’s an old biblical, sound reasoning why a woman shouldn’t be President.” (Rios also offered a scientific argument, noting that women “have different hormones.”)

Not to be out-vitrioled, Twitter responded with biblical fury, immediately making her comments a trending topic and generally declaring Rios to be, as one user calmly put it, “ignorant, sexist and self loathing.”

But judging from the male-dominated business world, Rios’ views aren’t as much of an anomaly as many would hope. It's still possible to attend business conferences where you'll be surrounded by a sea of blue suits, and they're not skirt suits.

The good news: Change is happening and it’s starting, in some cases, at the top. JLL’s Chairman of the Board is a woman, as is the firm’s Chief Financial Officer. And at the local level, women like Christine Espenshade are knocking down old barriers. Recently promoted to the leader of the Mid-Atlantic Multifamily team in JLL’s Capital Markets, Espenshade says the brokerage world is still decades behind on gender equality.

“Look at all of our biggest clients, the pension funds and other institutional investors—they all have women in power positions, and they’re certainly not tokens,” she says. “We need to be more representative of the business world at large and women not only need, but deserve, a seat at the table.”

And her boss would appear to agree.  JLL’s President and CEO Colin Dyer has noted that, to attract the best talent to JLL, “we need to fish in the entire gene pool and not miss good people because of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other label.”

Biblical sources were unavailable for comment.