Property Australia

Diversity leaders choose to challenge

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal March 9, 2021

How did the chairs of our Diversity and Inclusion Committees #choosetochallenge this International Women’s Day? And how are they leading change?

Each year, International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements, raises awareness of gender bias and encourages everyone to take action for equality.

Natalie Wray, head of risk for Dexus, leads the Property Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee in New South Wales. Her International Women’s Day celebrations started at home “with a conversation with my young children about why the day is still relevant and what this year’s theme of #ChooseToChallenge means to each of us”. Wray also helped to host the Property Council’s inaugural and sold-out International Women’s Day Breakfast in Sydney.

Dexus is using International Women’s Day to “continue the conversation and challenge our thoughts, perceptions and actions over ‘coffee with a colleague’ which will culminate in a celebratory morning tea held at our offices across the country,” Wray adds.

Looking further ahead, Wray says Dexus will launch a new parental leave policy later this year which will increase paid leave entitlements for all genders and ensure inclusivity of all parents, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. “We anticipate that this will propel our increasing uptake of all-gender parental leave and put us one step closer towards closing the gender gap,” Wray says.

Annabelle Aland, a partner with Allens and Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair in Queensland, has an annual tradition that she celebrates with her children. “We participate in the Brisbane RACQ International Women's Day Fun Run to support women with breast cancer, a cause close to my heart,” Aland explains.

The Women@Allens network also hosted a virtual International Women's Day morning tea. Aland says the network “encourages our people to think about what they will #ChooseToChallenge to help forge a gender equal world.”

Aland says Allens’ focus on equity in 2021 “is about ensuring that all women, from the moment they consider a career with Allens, and right through their development and progression in the firm, receive fair treatment and equitable access to opportunities”.

In Victoria, Nick Ashton, Charter Keck Cramer’s national executive director, chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He is spending the week rolling out in-house COVID-Safe events across Charter’s offices, “providing an opportunity for staff to connect in person and celebrate International Women’s Day,” he says. Staff have snapped photos with the #ChooseToChallenge pledge for Charter’s social media.

Ashton’s gender diversity focus this year is to assess underlying people and culture statistics and recruitment channels to “optimise on-boarding strategies, with an emphasis on balance, building on a successful launch of Charter’s parental leave initiative in 2019”.

Mary O’Neill, general manager for Bond Projects and Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair in the ACT, commemorated International Women’s Day with her mum and a friend at an industry luncheon. She has a big agenda this year as she works towards getting the Property Council’s Girls in Property Program up and running again in the nation’s capital.

“I’m looking forward to educating ACT high school girls who participate about the various property industry career paths available. I want to press the message of opportunity when young girls are thinking about property,” O’Neill says.


How can you #ChooseToChallenge through the Property Council's diversity initiatives?

Engage with your local diversity committee or check out the Property Council's diversity toolkit of reports and resources. Advance your own career by nominating for the new national mentoring program before applications close on Thursday 15 April. Or learn more about the 500 Women in Property program and put your hand up to participate or sponsor a talented woman when the next intake opens in 2022.