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News Release


Women in property: the changing face of the property industry



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​The face of the property industry is changing. 

The Real Estate Agents Authority says there are now 6,976 licensed female agents in New Zealand as at March 31 2016, compared to 7,136 men. 

Property Council New Zealand Chief Executive Connal Townsend has observed an increase in the number of female property professionals in his 12 years with PCNZ. 

“Of course it’s still a male-dominated industry, if you were to look at the numbers in certain areas of the industry, but there is more effort to encourage women into the sector. Property Council works with many high-powered female professionals, senior level executives, lawyers, managers, engineers, architects, local and central government and officials and others. We would definitely like to see more females in this sector, which I think will happen naturally as women are offered more choices at university and traditional gender roles are done away with.”

“Real estate has always been a great career path for women,” Colleen Milne, Chief Executive of the Real Estate Institute says. “The flexibility of the hours is appealing and the achievement of making a sale has led to great success for many women in the industry. 

“Traditionally property management was an area where there were many women, but now we are seeing more in other sectors with recent growth in commercial and business brokerage,” she says. 

A 2014 report on women in property by EY, conducted with the support of the Property Council of Australia, describes gender diversity as “opening the flood gates to greater profits and better returns for investors.”

“There is a large body of evidence that companies with higher percentages of women in their leadership perform better financially on a wide range of business metrics — return on equity, return on sales and return on invested capital,” the report says. 

“Everybody brings something unique with them to the workforce,” Townsend says. “With an undeniably and increasingly globalised world, we need to be able to relate to our customers, business partners and the wider public. The reality of that is no single group now represents our clientele, the public or associates and as New Zealand is a melting pot much like the of the world, we need the same to be able to make decisions that benefit everyone at all ends of the spectrum.”

JLL Human Resources Manager Susanne North agrees: “A diverse workforce comes up with better solutions and that affects our bottom line. Our customers are diverse and so our workforce should reflect that.”

“In the last year JLL has created a Diversity Committee whose primary goal is to attract and retain talented women. Out of this, we have implemented a parental leave policy which includes benefits to independent contractors,” North says. 

“Our Chief Operating Officer Mark Grant is on the committee and he is passionate about diversity,” JLL Recruitment Specialist Roshaan Hunt says. “So we have support from the top. Personally I feel very fortunate to have secured a part-time role that allows me to balance my work with looking after my two children. I didn’t have to take a step backwards to go part-time, and that is very rare. I work one day a week from home and my office days are structured around school drop-off and pick-up times. JLL has been very accommodating.”

JLL is not the only commercial property company that has upped its efforts to attract and retain women - which is great news for the industry, North says. 

“Even though we are obviously competing for talent, property companies need to work together where they can to create change,” she says.

By providing the right technology along with flexible start and finish times, property companies can help staff to manage work and family commitments. 

In Statistics New Zealand’s Survey of Working Life 2012 (published March 2014) 48 percent of all employees said that they had flexible hours at least sometimes, meaning they could start and finish work at different times if they wanted to. Those working in real estate reported a slightly higher than average rate, with more than 50 percent saying their hours were flexible. 

“We are lucky to have the technology to facilitate flexible working. I can leave in time to collect my daughter from daycare and take my laptop home with me if I need to. If she is sick, I can easily work from home,” North says. 

“The key is education and acceptance. You need supportive leadership and a culture of trust that focuses on outcomes to allow working from home to happen.”

It’s easy for companies to unintentionally exclude working parents, North says. 

“If you always use after-work drinks as your way of socialising, there will be some staff members who just can’t be there, as they have non-negotiable commitments such as collecting their children. By offering a mix of breakfast, lunchtime and afternoon networking events through the year, you give everyone a chance to take part.”

Likewise, scheduling an 8am meeting creates havoc for staff who need to get children to school on time. 

“It’s a matter of being mindful of your employees’ commitments and trying to be inclusive,” North says. 

In 2008 the Property Council New Zealand created its Women in Property events. 

“It is a proactive approach to encourage more women in the property sector,” Townsend says. “It has been incredibly successful and continues to attract record numbers. We run them regularly in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, South Island, and have just recently launched in Otago, due to popular demand. The idea is to connect and empower women working in the property sector by providing motivational speakers and topical industry presentations to increase industry knowledge. One of the most important aspects of this event series is its networking opportunities which brings women from different areas together to educate, inform and inspire.” 

But what if there just aren’t enough female candidates out there? How do you get females into your business if they’re not interested in your industry or studying the relevant qualifications? 

JLL maintains close relationships with universities and offers networking opportunities and part-time roles to property students. 

“We are seeing more female property graduates coming through, which bodes well for the future of the industry,” Hunt says. “I met one woman at a university networking event who had studied law and property and is also a mother. She was really impressive and so we kept in touch until the right role came along. She’s now working for us part-time and is really happy to have found a position that suits her so well.”