Diversity champions driving change

A word from Rom

Women make up half the property industry, but hold less than a third of leadership roles, a ground-breaking report from the Property Council has found.

Grow the Talent Pool – Insights on gender representation in property reveals that 52 per cent of the industry is female, but just 28 per cent of leaders are women.

A survey of more than 3,800 people found that women are more likely to “fall into property” by accident after gathering valuable experience outside the industry.

However, the career progression of women is hindered by three barriers: pay inequality, a lack of diversity in senior positions and a boys’ club culture.

As someone who has worked in the industry for many years, and has often found myself at functions and events, surrounded by a sea of men in suits, this is hardly a surprise.

But change is on the horizon.

The Property Male Champions of Change is driving an industry revolution – and I’m personally inspired by a number of these champions.

Peter Allen, CEO of Scentre Group, has introduced generous paid parental leave policies and a $2,500 a year childcare rebate for his staff.

CEO of GPT Group, Bob Johnston, aims to achieve a 50/50 split of women and men at non-executive director level.

Lendlease chief Steve McCann has driven a companywide line-by-line review of salaries and any pay discrepancies have been addressed. He’s looking at how to plan for flexibility so more women can be on the construction site, but still balance work with family life.

These are just three examples – but we need many more, because we’ve got years of culture to change.

Carol Schwartz, the first female inducted into the Australian Property Hall of Fame and the convenor of the Property Male Champions of Change, says “we are dealing with business practices and structures that have been in place for decades, so change won’t happen overnight.”

Some of these structural challenges may seem insurmountable. But the world of work is changing so rapidly – and mobility, flexibility and teleworking are enabling women to balance career and family life better than ever before.

Meanwhile, the money men in companies across the full spectrum of the economy are realising that diversity isn’t about the feel good factor – it’s a smart business move because diverse decision-making leads to better outcomes.

And, as I know from my experience with green building, when you can make the business case stack up, anything is possible.

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