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News & opinion

17 OCT. 2018

Inspirational role models on gender diversity

Laura Lindberg RICS

Laura Lindberg

Head of Media & Communications, Europe

Brussels, Belgium

RICS

The latest IMF study on gender diversity published this month asserts that gender diversity boosts productivity growth including in countries like India, because women bring new skills to the workplace in all areas or sectors. The research paper said that reducing female underemployment should yield greater gains than an equivalent increase in male employment.

However, the IMF also says that not all economic sectors show comparable levels of gender equality, in both developing and developed economies.

So what is the current situation in a traditional sector such as real estate in European markets, e.g. Germany?

At a booming Expo Real fair in Munich, inspirational role models joined a panel session hosted by RICS to share their views on how we can make gender equality a reality in the real estate industry. Here is their valuable insight:

Real Estate and gender

Judith Gabler, RICS Director of Operations, Europe, Regional Manager, DACH, explained that as a sustainable 21st century professional body RICS has a key role to play to encourage further action relating to equal opportunities and the advancement of women.

At present, statistics show that only 14% out of the over 125,000 RICS qualified professionals that operate across all sectors of the built environment worldwide are women. Although this percentage varies per country (with 21% in France and 18% in Germany) this shows there is still work to do.

“Employers need to build and retain a healthy pipeline and a more diverse talent pool to run the businesses of the future. Although there is evidence of the advantages, the image of the property sector is still perceived as protectionist, resistant to change and a male preserve. This results in skilled women turning their back on the business, threatening performance and talent.” said Judith.

RICS Gender Equality panel - Watch the video

Responsibility

Are women doing enough to climb the career ladder or should they take more responsibility for their own career? And what role can men play?

In a recent interview with the German Vonovia SE magazine, Cornelia Eisenbacher, Chair of Frauen in der Immobilienwirtschaft e.V (Women in Real Estate) stated that gender equality would be the norm in the next 20 years without having to talk about it specifically.

Judith Gabler

“Salary progression stops at middle-management level. It’s not just what men can do to help women, but women also need to better articulate their needs, negotiate salary and be more pro-active. What men can do is better support their female colleagues to climb the career ladder and be mindful of opportunities especially if they are in a position to influence. Organisations need to create more mixed teams with diverse talent; introduce more mentoring schemes for example and foster internal and external networks” added Cornelia.

Dr. Andreas Muschter, CEO, Commerz Real AG also said: "Gender equality can’t be completely separate from culture. Where you come from and your parents’ attitudes or your social environment can hugely influence your own attitude to work and career. For example, in former East Germany it was the norm that child care facilities were provided for women to facilitate their return to work so it wasn’t as much a negative or a problem".

Is it the responsibility of the individual and in particular women to be more pro-active or should the company play a larger role?

Andreas Muschter

Anne Bailly MRICS, Owner, Bailly Real Estate GmbH said: "Responsibility cannot be attributed to one person – all stakeholders (men, women, organisation) can play a role. Women have been driving the need until now, but the organisation can create that need without women having to push them. It’s about a management re-think".

Quotas

California has just become the first state in the USA to mandate female board directors which has been received with mixed views; and in Germany there is a 30% threshold.

How are female quotas perceived in global workplace environments?

RICS runs a recruitment process based on skills and competencies and not on female quotas. Nevertheless, there are both pros and cons to quotas – one could see them as a necessary evil.

“It is as equally important to have role models, for the company to get the right messaging and to increase the visibility of women, etc. We shouldn’t forget though that men also have to live up to stereotypes which can be positive or negative” thinks Tina Paillet FRICS, the first female Chair of RICS in Europe.

Encouraging women in the organisation is critical and is the right thing to do, but it cannot be to the disadvantage of male colleagues. It is not about promoting women to the disadvantage of their male colleagues, but about getting an equal balance.

Networks

Female networks provide a very effective environment for women to come together for professional development, advance their careers and provide a forum for them to share common interests.

Cornelia Eisenbacher shared: “Female networks facilitate knowledge sharing and are an excellent mechanism for meeting other women in different positions and with different backgrounds. Unlike men though, women do not look after their network as much as they should do. Women ought to prioritise differently and free up a couple of hours every so often to network. It’s a small effort with a huge result.“

More about the panel at Expo Real

Watch this video to follow the full RICS Diversity Panel session “Walk the talk – making gender equality a reality” that took place at Expo Real 2018.

Related media coverage about the panel on Expo Real daily:

Tina Paillet
Laura Lindberg RICS

Laura Lindberg

Head of Media & Communications, Europe

Brussels, Belgium

RICS

Laura has worked for RICS since 2007 and she is in charge of developing and maintaining a proactive media relations programme to raise the profile and credibility of RICS in continental Europe. She ensures accuracy and consistency of communications in cross-cutting messages to different audiences, provides support in the preparation of material for key delegates and dispenses newsworthy information to media and PR agencies.

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