Property industry leaders unite to promote diversity

A coalition of senior real estate business leaders, including Chair of Hogan Lovells Nicholas Cheffings, have joined forces to back an industry-wide initiative, committing publicly to promote an inclusive, gender balanced workforce in their organisations.

The CEO Commitments for Diversity sets out 10 actions each signatory will take personal responsibility for implementing, with the end goal being a gender balanced property industry in senior and leadership positions. 

Real Estate Balance, a non-profit membership organisation working to address gender imbalance in the property sector, has spearheaded the initiative. The CEO Commitments for Diversity will be launched this evening (1 November) at the British Property Federation (BPF) annual dinner, with the support of close to 50 senior industry leaders. 

The Commitments, taken together, are designed to change how gender diversity is delivered throughout the property industry.  Although the focus of the Real Estate Balance commitments is on gender, most apply to all aspects of diversity and their implementation is viewed as having a positive impact right across the property sector. 

The CEO Commitments for Diversity were devised following a 2016 Real Estate Balance survey of 380 property professionals working in 40 organisations which found that:

  • 80% of women working in real estate see addressing gender issues as important for job satisfaction
  • Only 11% of women believe their company deals extremely well with gender issues
  • When men and women employees were asked what they would like to see introduced to achieve increased gender balance, they put cultural and behavioural changes at number one

Vivienne King, Chair of Real Estate Balance, said:
“The property industry has come a long way in embracing diversity, but we have still further to go. Women are better represented in property than ever before, and yet, with a few notable exceptions, virtually all the leadership positions in our sector are held by men. 

“Real Estate Balance wants to address this imbalance and the CEO Commitments for Diversity are a significant step towards shifting the dial in promoting diversity throughout the property sector. It’s an exciting, bold initiative taken by the signatories and clear evidence of the determination for change that is being driven at Board level by both men and women. If widely adopted, as we hope they will be, this has the potential to support transformation in the sector creating a pipeline of women to fill our senior positions.

“We are launching the CEO Commitments for Diversity at the BPF annual dinner because the BPF has chosen us as their gender diversity partner under their Statement of Principles and the dinner is such an important event in the property calendar. We’ve started with a deeply impressive list of our industry’s leading men and women but we want even more senior individuals to join us on this journey and publicly commit to working to change their corporate culture to ensure that women are supported and encouraged to aim for the top”.

Nicholas Cheffings, Chair of Hogan Lovells, said:

"As the Chair of Hogan Lovells and a practising real estate lawyer, I was very keen to show my support for Real Estate Balance and the Commitments for Diversity. They are statements of best practice to which I already subscribe and they are embedded in the way that Hogan Lovells does business. I hope that this initiative will help to encourage others to make the same commitments for the benefit of all."

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