International Women's Day 2018

8 Mar 2018

Policy area: Diversity and Inclusivity

For 2018's International Women's Day, Vivienne King from Real Estate Balance writes about gender balance at senior levels in the property industry.

2018’s International Women’s Day could well be one of the more charged in recent history, following on from what has been a tumultuous 12 months for gender inclusion. But a shift in cultural attitudes is gathering steam, with a real drive for change taking place in the worlds of entertainment, politics, business and beyond. For an organisation striving to achieve gender balance at senior levels in the property sector, this is an energising moment for Real Estate Balance, if recent events shining a critical light on the industry, can be a catalyst for positive change. 

We are a relatively new body in the sector, less than two years old, but we have been heartened by the response of women and men to support our mission to address the gender imbalance at senior levels in our industry. We are seeing increasing numbers of senior property professionals sharing our belief that broadening the talent pool is not just the right thing to do but has clear business advantages with different perspectives, challenges and skills to enrich long term decision-making and ensure its relevance in our marketplaces.

At Real Estate Balance our focus is on accelerating the rebalance, engaging and securing the genuine support of leaders to stand up for diversity in their businesses and the industry at large. Partnering with the BPF ensures that collectively, our voice is louder and together, we can influence change throughout the sector. A great example of this happened at the BPF’s Annual Dinner in November, where we launched our CEO Commitments for Diversity which generated the support of close to 50 senior industry leaders. We are indebted to the BPF for providing this platform and the encouragement of their members. Our collaboration continues this year as we promote the diversity  agenda at BPF events in London, MIPIM and Manchester

2018’s programme is probably our most ambitious to date. Our flagship initiative for the year, to be launched in the coming months, will be a practical toolkit developed to offer organisations a practical guide on improving gender balance within their own companies. This will highlight good practice and illustrate ways to attract and retain women through their career, change organisational culture, develop inclusive leadership and promote flexible working.

We are continuing to work from the bottom up with individuals at more junior levels to ensure that women are supported and encouraged to aim for the top. Throughout the year we will be offering a range of development, mentoring and learning opportunities with the support of our members in order to build, over time, a pipeline of women who will fill the senior executive and board positions within our industry.

This International Women’s Day, I encourage you all to commit to the journey of your organisation towards a real gender balance at senior levels. It calls for commitment and hard graft from all quarters of the industry and I have every belief that that is exactly what we are seeing.