ACT Property Council moves towards a more gender-diverse industry

 
This week the ACT Property Council affirmed its commitment to gender diversity in the industry with the launch of its 100 Women In Property leadership program.

By now, the standard set of reasons for gender diversity have become somewhat ubiquitous – it's an economic imperative, a social must, and a key factor to being competitive in the market.

And as you scanned the packed ballroom at the launch, speak with local property industry leaders, and hear of their receptivity to the program – ubiquity isn't a bad thing after all, it is in fact awareness.

We're at an interesting point in the push for greater gender diversity in the property industry. Leaders are turning rhetoric into action, and understand that not having more women in their organisation gets them marked down.

Do an online search of 'women' and 'quotas', and almost all search engines will noticeably come back with articles and reports that are dated in 2015.

It's an important year, and as president of Chief Executive Women, Diane Smith-Gander noted, 2015 was the turning point when having gender quotas became acceptable.

Consider the fact that if only 10 per cent of women in the workforce describe their occupation as executive or managerial – change isn't happening fast enough and something needs to be done to address this.

Rather than seeing quotas and targets as undermining meritocracy, they could be an enabler of merit if designed and implemented correctly.

The important question that needs to be asked here is: "How did you get to where you are today?" In most instances, there are two elements to this. First, mentors who helped you get better at what you do. Second, sponsors who supported you and advocated on your behalf as you progressed in your career.

Building on years of mentoring programs, the ACT property industry's latest initiative is about sponsorship, and working with industry to achieve a significant and sustainable increase in the number of women in leadership positions.

It's a positive step in challenging 'the boys club" in what is, with perhaps the exception of mining, the "bloke-iest" industry in the country.

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 2016