According to a ground-breaking new study, the property industry has enormous opportunity to improve its economic performance through greater gender diversity.
The report, from Ernst & Young and the Property Council of Australia, is entitled The next big deal is on. Property industry, where are you on gender diversity. It found that the sector remains male-dominated, with only a handful of women in executive leadership positions.
But it says firms within the sector can foster a more dynamic and innovative culture and react more swiftly to change in the marketplace by taking steps to move up a ‘smart curve’ which E&Y has developed which assesses the maturity of the diversity strategies employed by businesses across the four stages of unaware, emerging awareness, aware and engagement.
Its study indicates that the property industry still remains entrenched on the lower end of their smart curve, which it claims leaves many companies less capable of adapting swiftly to change in the marketplace.
"Companies that move up the 'smart curve' will improve their financial performance - creating a modern culture with the flexibility and innovation that younger generations (men and women) are demanding," said the study.
"It becomes a competitive advantage translating into measurable results and business benefits."
According to the study, a key reason for this prevailing lack of gender diversity is a limited understanding of the business drivers with which it's associated.
The study points out that women are expected to control nearly 75 per cent of global discretionary spending by 2028, making them far more influential across a broad range of consumer and investment categories, including property.
Property Council of Australia chief executive Ken Morrison said gender diversity is vital to the success of modern businesses.
"The organisations that provide men and women with the same opportunity to succeed and become leaders will thrive," he said. "The potential deliverables are tangible and proven."
Morrison called for the Australian property industry to improve its record on gender diversity in the same way that it has lifted its performance in other key areas.
"The property industry has proven its credentials when it comes to embedding safety, technology and sustainability across the sector," he said. "The same sharp focus now needs to expand to also address gender equity."