Nearly 400 talented high school girls got their first taste of property careers in 2018, as the industry’s diversity agenda gathers national momentum.
Girls in Property, which started as a one-off event in New South Wales in 2017, has grown rapidly over 2018, expanding the horizons of 400 hundred Year 9 and 10 students from 18 different schools in six different cities.
“We were so excited to be part of the program this year and had more members keen to participate than we could accommodate,” says Vicki Sharp, a partner with Thomson Geer and a driving force behind the program in Victoria.
A member of the Victorian Diversity Committee, Sharp says the early success of the program in Sydney was “inspiring”.
“As a mother of three teenage daughters myself, I am passionate about my role in Australia’s biggest industry. I want more people to understand the breadth of opportunities available in property – especially to female talent.”
This year, the three-day program in NSW brought together 170 girls from seven high schools, followed by programs in Queensland (40 girls), South Australia (40 girls), WA (52 girls), Victoria (52 girls) and, finally, last week in the ACT (40 girls).
Each dynamic event was designed to inspire and engage young minds. In Victoria, for example, the one-day program kicked off at Foy’s Arcade, ISPT’s new immersive customer experience centre. A panel of young women in property shared their career journeys, before a “speed networking” session encouraged new connections. Multiplex established a project room for Collins Arch, with the girls donning virtual reality glasses to see how the development was taking shape, before taking a tour of The GPT Group’s Melbourne Central.
“We ended the day with 52 exhausted but happy girls who were excited about the opportunities that property may hold for them,” Sharp laughs.
The feedback from participants and educators has been positive, with “many teachers telling us there are few practical opportunities to expose students to careers” and that the Property Council’s approach “hit the mark”.
The Girls in Property story has also been picked up by the press, garnering mainstream media coverage around Australia.
Sharp applauds the “amazing inroads” the industry has made into gender diversity and inclusion over the last five years, and points to the work of the Property Male Champions of Change and initiatives like 500 Women in Property and the 40:40:20 target for committees.
“The biggest challenge in 2019 is to maintain the momentum,” Sharp says.
The Property Council’s chief operating officer, Kathy Mac Dermott, agrees.
“We continue to look for ways to support our members as they drive diversity throughout their organisations,” she says.
Among the innovations are a new collaboration with the Property Council in New Zealand to share knowledge and insight into diversity programs, as well as the evolving 500 Women in Property program, which has expanded from 100 Women in Property just four years ago.
Nominations for the next intake of 500 Women in Property – which is now capped at 500 women and 500 sponsors – will open on 29 January and close on 15 February.
“In the 2019 program we will be giving members the opportunity to submit whole-of company as well as individual nominations,” Mac Dermott explains.
“We are delighted to see the program enter its fourth year – something that would not be possible without the generosity and vision of our national sponsor, The GPT Group.”
Meanwhile the Male Champions of Change has released its first ‘whole of community’ report which captures the achievements of each industry subgroup – including the Property Male Champions of Change (PMCC). The report highlights include:
- All PMCC organisations have conducted a pay equity review, and have acted on the results, or are currently completing a review.
- In 75 per cent of PMCC organisations, women made up 40 per cent or more of promotions over the reporting period.
- Seventy per cent of leadership categories across PMCC organisations have achieved gender balance or progress towards balance over the past four years.
The Property Male Champions of Change also launched Grow the Talent Pool, a report which found that eight in 10 men and seven in 10 women believe the industry has become more diverse and inclusive in just two years.
Looking ahead, Sharp says Property Council members will continue to throw their weight behind the diversity push.
“We recognise that other areas of diversity need attention, but women make up such a large proportion of the industry and the community at large. Building the foundations for gender diversity will help us with other areas of diversity.
“The fact that 30 per cent of delegates and 48 per cent of speakers at this year’s Congress were female, and more than 190 were under 35 years old shows us that the demographics of the industry are changing – and it’s an exciting time for us all.”
Learn more about Girls in Property and how your company can be involved in 2019.