Inclusive companies find it easier to attract talent, experts agreed at Real Asset Media’s Diversity in Real Estate briefing, which was held in the International Investors’ Lounge at Expo Real in Munich this week.
“Younger generations are very aware of diversity and social issues and they are very attracted to companies that have the right culture,” said Sylwia Ziemacka, head of membership and partners’ network, Senior Housing & Healthcare Association. “Diversity and inclusion strategies are a crucial tool for companies to attract talent.”
This can be a real advantage in today’s market, where there is a shortage of skills and a real competition for talent.
“The new generations have clear views and different priorities that companies must take into account,” said Marcia Schless, founding partner, Pink Line Real Estate Consultancy.
Being inclusive helps organisations as well as companies.
“When I joined SIOR, the association of top brokers, eight years ago it was all white and all male,” said Renata Osiecka, managing partner, AXI IMMO Group. “But there was a clear recognition that diversity was needed to attract people and increase membership, and the organisation has changed a lot since then.”
Not just box-ticking – good for business
Attracting more women is not just box-ticking or doing the right thing but it’s also good for business.
“Giving women a platform and a voice around the table is beneficial to the company,” said Claudia van Haeften, founder & CEO, Sociëteit Vastgoed. “I’ve seen their positive contribution and influence in every sector of real estate, from residential to healthcare to logistics.”
Women bring empathy, innovation and fresh ideas but also contribute to the bottom line.
“Research has shown that having women at every level in business has a positive impact on financial results,” said Ziemacka. “They bring a different perspective and are good at decision-making.”
It is a question of setting in motion a virtuous cycle: as more women work in the sector and rise through the ranks, more women are encouraged to join and the word spreads that it is a good field or a good company to work for.
Avison Young, for example, the Canada-based international real estate company, has had a women’s network since 2015, a strong support group which organises internal mentoring, educational sessions and reach-out groups to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Our women’s meetings are always full,” said van Haeften. “Women like working together and doing things together, but they’re also good at collaborating with men in a work environment.”
It is not just employees who like diversity, said Osiecka: “It has been shown time and again that clients don’t like having men-only teams pitching a deal or doing a presentation.”
The current emphasis on ESG issues is helping the cause of gender diversity within the workplace because it is a crucial part of the social aspect. The panellists agreed that diversity should also encompass race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, allowing for a wide spectrum of views.