As a young woman that has recently begun her career within the property industry, I’m glad to see that the era of chaps in blue suits is ending and more attention is being paid to making real estate an inclusive industry for all.
Currently, the world of business and property are challenging places for an ambitious woman. According to 2019 research by Morningstar, there were more UK funds run by men named David than there are women fund managers in total.
While the FTSE 100 was recently praised for finally meeting diversity targets for women on company boards, that figure still only stood at 33 percent. And in the property industry, only 30 percent of senior leadership and a fifth of board members are female.
Aside from the growing numbers of women on boards and leadership positions, groups like Ladies in Real Estate are providing numerous networking and mentorship opportunities, all over an oat-milk flat white.
And at last month’s BISNOW: Women in Real Estate event it was fantastic to see a room almost entirely filled with women, all with a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them.
But the event’s discussion was largely focussed on flexible working within the industry to balance being a parent and a worker.
Of course, this is a tremendously important issue – pregnancy and maternity leave are key concerns for career-driven women looking to start a family. But there are other challenges that working women face that need equal attention paid to.
Not only does this discussion insinuate that men don’t have these same problems as fathers (where are the events looking into paternity leave and flexible working for men?), but it sends a message that this is the chief and only concern of working women.
Not so. For some it’s getting the opportunities to work in their favoured industry or role. For others it’s about being perceived as equally valuable as their male counterparts, both financially and intellectually.
And this is an issue across the world and across industries. Last month the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)’s Women Conference, hosted in the Falkland Islands, gathered and one of the key issues that arose was the lack of women standing for local council due to perceived feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence.
Women, particularly young women, still face challenges of asserting themselves to get ahead.
If we want to create an industry where everywhere from our modular factories to the boards of leading property investment firms demonstrate equality and diversity, we have to ensure that our young women are taught confidence in their abilities and are given the opportunities to develop the skills for their chosen career.
Through mentorship programmes such as the ULI Young Leaders, we can start to create an industry that does more than make motherhood easier for women, but instead makes their careers more accessible and provides them with those all-important networks and skills for a brighter future.