Insights / 11 March 2021

Demonstrating change is key for a diversity-hungry real estate sector

Demonstrating change is key for a diversity-hungry real estate sector

Businesses in the real estate space are continuing to make the case for diversity to be a core part of their model and approach, but key challenges remain – both in terms of ensuring data and reporting are fit for purpose in enabling and demonstrating effective change, and in how that change manifests itself at a senior leadership level.

Those were amongst the findings of the latest Real Estate Balance Survey 2020 presented to members this January, and as we celebrate International Women’s Day this week it seems timely to highlight these findings again and the progress made across the industry. Equally it is important to continue to identify where the focus needs to be if the aspirations of a sector, that clearly values diversity so much, are to be realised. The survey reflects the sentiment amongst businesses employing around 36,000 people in the sector.

The fact that members of Real Estate Balance (REB) have made good progress in championing diversity and prompting commitments to improve approaches to diversity within their organisations is clearly positive, but not particularly surprising. These are firms, like Crestbridge, that have made a commitment to drive change by joining Real Estate Balance, an association run by a group of female and male leaders from different organisations and disciplines engaged in real estate who are focussed on addressing the gender imbalance in the sector.

The next step, as this survey reveals, is more challenging and absolutely critical – turning that commitment into demonstrable and measurable change for good.

As an industry, we need to take note of these findings and give some clear thought as to how we can track change, what metrics are useful and accurate for demonstrating change, and how we can use that evidence to drive further positive change through the real estate supply chain.

Further, we need to think as an industry about putting in place a clear runway for women to progress from graduate through to middle manager to senior leadership positions. The movement towards remote and flexible working in light of the pandemic could actually drive some helpful change here, with the survey indicating shifting preferences around working from home amongst both men and women – but still, to address the lack of women in senior positions will take wholesale cultural changes.

It is also important note that it is practical positive change that creates real value. We must guard against paying lip service to implementing change and focus on data that creates value and opportunity that benefits both the individual and business. It is about equalisation rather than positive discrimination. 

Having joined REB last year, over the course of 2021 Crestbridge will be building on our efforts over the past six months to further champion the work of REB to help take diversity in real estate to the next level, putting concrete measures in place and integrating diversity into everything we do so that we, as a business, are all working towards a shared, common goal – with the aim of shifting behaviours across the industry more widely.

By turning our commitments into action, we are intent on playing an active role in transforming our industry, so that ultimately, we can all do better business.

By Simon Todd, Group Head of Real Estate Services, Crestbridge

For more about the work of REB, along with their useful resources, can be found here.