New research on leading Australian property companies suggests the industry is divided it its views on gender diversity and missing out on significant financial opportunities.
Gender diversity in the property industry
In a debate undermined by myth, false assumptions and unconscious bias, two opinions emerge: gender sceptics and gender believers.
What needs to change?
We believe the majority of companies remain stuck at the ‘knowing’ or compliance end of the gender diversity scale rather than tipping towards true ‘understanding.’
It can stay in its current status as a male-dominated industry, with a handful of women in Executive leadership positions or it can ‘tip’ – to greater profits and better returns for investors.
The reasons why the property industry is in its current state include:
- Doubt and narrow understanding of the business drivers for gender diversity
- Failure to grasp the weight of external pressures
- Different opinions as to why there are fewer women leaders in property
- The power of leadership
We argue that if the industry pursued gender diversity with the aggressive focus it devotes to closing deals, the financial benefits could be substantial.
Business drivers for change
“The business case for women in leadership gets better every year: women bring improved decision making at the top, more creativity and innovation, and better problem solving, stemming from greater cognitive diversity. Women also improve the ecosystem, because company leaders better match the profile of customers and employees. When three or more women make it to the top team, a company’s organisational health appears to improve on every one of the nine dimensions,” McKinsey tracks.
Fifteen years of global research indicates that companies with the most gender diverse boards and leadership teams constantly outperform their industry average.
More than half of the executives interviewed said they understood the business case for gender diversity but believed ‘it hasn’t affected our industry yet.’ The business case for gender diversity is not about fixing a problem – it’s about ensuring business sustainability and improving financial performance.
The ‘smart curve’ to success
Our research shows that the property industry is sitting lower down the ‘smart curve’ (a concept we developed to help you measure the maturity of your diversity strategies).
Companies that move up the ‘smart curve’ will improve their financial performance – creating a modern culture with the flexibility and innovation that younger generations (men and women) are demanding.
It becomes a competitive advantage translating into measurable results and business benefits.
By 2028, women are forecast to control close to 75% of discretionary spending worldwide. The property industry may still believe its client base is male-dominated, but research shows that women are becoming increasingly influential across a wide range of categories.
The property industry has yet to understand the external pressures motivating other industries to act which include threat to brand and reputation, pressure from investors and dealing with skills shortages.