While other sectors are closing the gender pay gap, the figure is actually increasing in real estate. All leaders have a responsibility to help fix it, but Anna Thomas shares some ideas on what women specifically can do — ideas that apply to all sectors.
Real estate has long been a male dominated industry with women still not being provided the opportunity to step up into leadership roles which is reflected in the statistics demonstrating a lack of female leaders and the significant gender pay gap which remains prevalent in the industry.
In fact, real estate is one of the industries which has recorded an increase of 3.7% in the gender pay gap, with it widening from 25.6% in 2013/14 to 29.3% in the 2016/17 period, with men earning more than $131,000 annually to their female counterpart’s $92,735 annual income.
It’s not possible to turn this around overnight but there are things women within the industry can do to give themselves the best chance of succeeding, whether they are in leadership roles currently or simply want to receive the same remuneration for performing the same role as their male colleagues.
Female leaders must use their influence
Women who already hold senior positions within the industry share a responsibility to lead from the front, opening doors for other women and encouraging them to step through them. To provide opportunities within my organisation, the Stockdale & Leggo group, for women, I have set a goal of achieving a 50/50 gender split for franchisees of Stockdale & Leggo by 2025. Currently we are at 30/70 so there’s clearly room for improvement however the first step is to acknowledge the issue and then be proactive about solving it from within your own sphere of influence.
Mentorship is key
Support needs to be more than encouraging a female employee to attend an annual women’s event. It must come in the form of mentorship as most learn by doing or emulating another which is why female leaders must put their hands up to mentor others who have expressed the desire to move into more senior roles. Mentorship must be ongoing, accessible and relevant to the career trajectory of the mentee. Help them identify the role they’re pursuing, assist them in building an action plan, break the plan down into achievable steps. Make advice practical and beneficial and ensure you fully commit to and uphold your end of the mentorship agreement.
Learn to recognise own value
An interesting tid bit from the Gender Equity Insights 2017, which perhaps might reflect one of the biggest issues to date on why the gender gap is not closing is that in female heavy companies with female dominated management teams, the pay gaps actually favour the men. This seems to indicate that in these female centric companies, the men are more highly valued by the women themselves. This may speak to some lack of self-belief and value women place on their own abilities, and recognising and celebrating their own talent, capability and skill is a crucial first step to overcoming the divide.
Go one step further
Sadly it isn’t enough to just ‘feel’ more confident. Action is required by women to put themselves forward for opportunities as they arise. Even better, create your own opportunities. One doesn’t succeed by sitting back and waiting. Educate yourself, take advantage of the training offered to you by your employer or franchisor, attend industry events, read books. Go one step further and suggest a new role to your employer and present a business case as to why it’s required, the benefits to the business and why you’re just the person to do the job; do whatever it takes to shine a spotlight on your capabilities, so much so that it cannot be denied.
I believe that it’s often a confidence issue rather than a lack of skills or capability holding some women back from stepping up and this is why I founded the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ movement; to help them find support from other women and be inspired by those who have risen to senior roles within the industry. But this is only one element of a much bigger solution and we, as women, must join forces to become an active and contributing part of that solution.