Too many suits are bad for business

Let's not beat around the bush – the property industry can be a pretty ‘blokey’ place.

It’s fair to say that industry events often resemble a sea of suits and a throng of testosterone.

And while there are now more high-profile females holding the top jobs – from prime ministers to cabinet ministers and private and public sector chief executives – the overall number of women in executive roles in the property industry is still relatively small.

But at the same time, the battle for talent has never been fiercer. Those companies best able to attract, secure, retain and nurture talent will continue to have the upperhand.

And let’s be honest, it makes no sense to cast a net over only half the available talent pool.

There’s plenty of research indicating that diversity is essential for business success.

Group-think and homogeneity don’t give businesses a competitive edge.

Instead, the right formula is a mix of talent, skills and networks – and that includes gender.

The property industry’s report card is in and it doesn’t make for pretty reading.

Frankly, it’s unacceptable.

Recent research shines an uncomfortable spotlight on the property industry’s approach to achieving gender diversity. In short, this industry is sitting well down the “smart curve”.

In fact, most property companies fall somewhere between “emerging awareness’’ and “aware” – and that’s not good enough.

It’s a long way short of leadership where diversity becomes a real source of competitive business advantage.

Research also indicates gender diversity programs are mainly compliance focused, rather than truly integrated, and less likely to deliver real business value.

So it’s time to work together as an industry – and more broadly, as a society – to accelerate the change needed to increase
the number of women in leadership roles and build a pipeline of future female leaders.

And we need to act fast to catch up on lost ground.

We know that the property industry embraces change regarding safety, technology and sustainability – but it’s now time to expand our focus to include gender diversity.

Put simply, the property industry and those working in it need to become champions of change here in South Australia – there’s a massive gender imbalance and it’s time to act.

Daniel Gannon is the SA Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia

This piece was first published in the Adelaide Advertiser