Shifting the diversity dial

A new report identifies the property industry’s ‘boys’ club’ mentality and a lack of diversity in senior leadership as some of the top barriers women face in their journey towards reaching executive leadership roles.

The Property Male Champions of Change and EY recently surveyed over 3800 employees (women and men) in 18 property organisations and found that, despite men and women in property having the same aspirations for leadership, women are less likely to progress from manager level to senior leadership in the property industry. Less than one in three leadership roles are currently held by women.

Carol Schwartz AM (pictured), Convenor of the Property Male Champions or Change, says the research shows organisations need to start actively and intentionally creating pathways for women to leadership positions to achieve change.

“The results reveal that prior to joining property, more women than men have worked in a range of industries and sectors that provide highly transferrable skills and knowledge,” Schwartz says.

“Re-defining and articulating what skills and attributes are truly required for senior roles in the property industry is one way we can open up different pathways and proactively support women to reach their career aspirations and increase diversity of thought in our executive teams.”

All this is part of the Property Male Champions of Change’s inaugural report, Our Commitment, released by 21 of the most senior leaders in the property industry.

Just over one year since its formation, the Our Commitment report outlines the listening and learning journey each leader has undertaken, whilst the six action plans set out their long-term commitment to drive lasting change within their organisations.

”The Property Male Champions of Change recognise that to move the dial on women in executive leadership, men must step up beside women and champion gender equality with visible leadership and informed action,” Schwartz says.

“It is early days for the group, but it is clear to us that to win the war for talent, we must ensure women and men have equal opportunity to thrive in the property sector. The findings and commitments reflected in this report are an excellent foundation from which to measure our progress each year,” Schwartz says.

The Property Male Champions of Change was inspired by the Founding Male Champions of Change, convened by then Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO, calling on men to step up beside women and drive gender equality in their workplaces.

“It is important to emphasise that improving gender balance at work is not a women's issue, it is a significant social and economic issue that all Australians are responsible for. The men are not champions because they are perfect role models, but rather because they are committed to leading tangible action to increase the representation of women in leadership,” says Broderick.

 Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, says: “I am confident that the journey towards gender equity in the property sector will gather momentum as this group harnesses the power of leadership, transparency and accountability to achieve better business outcomes across their industry.”

 Our Commitment Report is available at http://www.propertycouncil.com.au/downloads/OurCommitment.pdf