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Corporations across the world are increasingly seeing the cultural and economic benefits of having a diverse workforce, and property is no different.
Last month, Property Council’s ‘Girls in Property’ Program was delivered for the fourth year in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education, with the aim to get more young women interested in a property career and create awareness around the many career options available.
The program hosted over 350 girls from diverse backgrounds from 22 NSW public high schools from across the Greater Sydney, Hunter, Illawarra and Port Macquarie region.
The 35 students from Dapto High School and Kiama High School who took part in the Illawarra program were able to meet with industry leaders, politicians, experience world class property developments, and work on real life property projects with mentors from the property and infrastructure industry.
All with the aim to establish a pipeline of young women who will choose a career in property because plainly speaking – there aren’t enough women working in property and infrastructure in NSW.
There’s no denying that NSW has had a recent building and infrastructure boom. Although large parts of the property industry are lacking female employees.
Areas such as construction (12 per cent female), property development (26 per cent female) and property investment (36 per cent female) are mostly staffed by men.
The imbalance is also concerning at the top of the tree in leadership positions. Only 28 per cent of leadership roles in property are held by women which means we have fewer women staying in the system and moving into these positions.
These are the kind of statistics we are trying to change with a program like ‘Girls in Property’ – ensuring that more women choose a career in property, choose to stay and are given more opportunities to excel because there are myriad benefits both for them and the industry.
The property industry is in the game of building better places, and good places benefit from a diversity of design and thought. When building design and construction has the input of a diverse range of people, we see better buildings, better communities, better towns and cities. This is important as our population and regions grow larger and more diverse over time.
Diversity of thought also propels creativity and innovation within an organisation. Global management consulting firm Mckinsey found the top companies that embrace gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies who don’t.
More recent research conducted by the Harvard Business School found in a study of 1069 leading firms across 35 countries and 24 industries that gender diversity contributes to more productive companies with higher market value and revenue in contexts where gender diversity is made a priority and widely accepted.
The ‘Girls in Property’ program goes some way to ensuring these benefits are realised by the property industry and by more young women choosing a career in property and being made aware of the career opportunities available to them.
And we can already see the positive effect of the program. Research carried out by Urbis in 2019 found after attending the program, girls were more likely to identify non-traditional roles for women within the property industry as career options available to them – in careers such as engineering, planning and construction.
All schools involved in year one and two of ‘Girls in Property’ reported an increase in students selecting HSC subjects in the areas of science, mathematics, or design and at Riverside Girls High School for example there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of students electing to study economics and a 100 per cent increase in design and technology.
Quite often when students are looking at career options, they are not aware of the diversity and breadth of options available to them and we aim to change that with this program each and every year. The program has also given local businesses and leaders in the industry the opportunity to partner with us to deliver this program and enabled them to share their knowledge and expertise with the students which is invaluable.
We are very much looking forward to continuing to deliver this program right across NSW to give young women every opportunity to learn more about our industry and expanding its reach even further in the Illawarra in the years to come.
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