To change the long-term composition, culture and capacity of the built environment, through improving female talent retention and increasing gender balance at senior leadership level.
At a macro industry level, women account for only 30% of managerial roles in the UK, and this declines further at more senior levels. Only 26% of executives on Exco (FTSE350) are female, and only 4% of CEOs. Within property specifically, only 17% of surveyors in UK and Ireland are women, and only 4% of FRICS members are women.
Our challenge is one of progression, not recruitment, however. Between 2016 and 2022 women represented 40% of the UK real estate workforce for graduate to middle managers, but numbers drop sharply at senior level. Real Estate Balance’s 2022 DE&I report showed gender balance at board level in the real estate industry has been declining since 2020. There are both cultural and practical reasons for this. Retention rates for women returning to work after maternity leave are 30% lower than normal rates according to Careers After Babies report. For the 86% of women who have children by 40 in the UK, 85% leave full time employment within 3 years, and the number of women in management roles drops by 32% post children.
At Mentoring Circle, we want to positively impact these statistics. We intend to contribute to maintaining women’s confidence, career opportunities and ambition – whatever their circumstance – over the course of their working lives. By improving gender balance at the very top of the property industry, we will have a practical and cultural impact on the productivity of the built environment and its c.6% contribution to GDP. How? Diversity makes sound business sense: Curtin Business School reports an increase of 10% or more of female representation in executive roles directly leads to a 6.6% increase in a business’ market value – equivalent to £57m for the average company. Diversity of thought via different backgrounds and perspectives enhances business innovation, and retaining and investing in existing female talent saves money; staff turnover costs businesses up to £30,000 per employee.