Property Australia

PMCC share learnings at the UN


Australia’s Property Male Champions of Change highlighted the power of enlisting private sector action to address gender equality as 9,000 people gathered for the United Nations’ 63rd Commission on the Status of Women.

Lendlease’s Steve McCann, AMP Capital's Carmel Hourigan, EY’s Selina Short and the Property Council’s Kathy Mac Dermott joined an Australian delegation led by Male Champions of Change founder and independent expert to the UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women, Elizabeth Broderick, to the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, or CSW63, in mid-March.

CSW is the chief global policy making body on women’s rights and gender equality in the UN and CSW63 brought together community groups and members of civil society, government and business for two weeks of intense dialogue, expert panels and partnership events.

The New York summit concluded with a commitment from UN member states to design and deliver services, infrastructure and social protection systems that create a ‘level playing field’ for women and girls.2019-03-12 09.54.56

The Property Council’s chief operating officer Kathy Mac Dermott says it was “very evident” during the summit that “Australia is a leader when it comes to enlisting private sector support to drive gender equality, including workplace responses to domestic and family violence”.

“Thanks to Liz’s vision of establishing the MCC, the delegation was able to share learnings from the various groups and tangible, practical actions others could adopt.

“There was extraordinary interest in the Male Champions of Change program and the personal commitment of CEOs to first listen and learn, and to then lead with action.

“Our PMCC group is now in its fifth year and we were able to share this work on various panels during CSW as well as a dedicated property roundtable we organised which was hosted by EY and attended by 40 New York-based real estate professionals and industry groups, including representatives from Lendlease, AMP, JLL, Colliers, BOMA and the ULI,” Mac Dermott adds.

Shifting the system

During the property roundtable, Liz Broderick unpacked the power behind the Male Champions of Change approach, which “is about powerful men taking action” and “taking the message of gender equality to other men”. Broderick emphasised that the strategy is not about trying to “fix women” but rather to “shift the system”.

“It’s about men stepping up beside women and taking equal responsibility and action in promoting gender equality.”

From a group of 12 initial leaders there are now “well over 200” male champions, including 21 from Australia’s largest property organisations in the PMCC.

“It’s about the largest property organisations in our nation coming together and saying – ‘no one of us will ever be as good as all of us acting together’.”

“Over the last eight years we've experimented with many different breakthrough strategies in the MCC groups,” Broderick said. Everyone is “experimenting” and “shamelessly ripping off” others’ strategies.

“And that’s how we are moving ahead”.


What leadership looks like

Lendlease Group chief executive officer and managing director Steve McCann shared the lessons his company had learnt in the quest to achieve pay parity in like-for-like jobs.

“The reality is, there’s a lot of subjectivity in decisions on how people get remunerated,” he said. The secret is to “strip out that subjectivity” on a “repeat basis”.

Lendlease has established targets to increase the number of women in leadership and pipeline roles, as well as in entry level positions and participation, McCann said. The group now tracks gender data at every stage of the recruitment process.

Lendlease’s global graduate program, which recruits 250-plus people each year, has achieved equal participation of men and women. “In our development and investment management businesses, we already employ more than 50 per cent women. But, to target 50 per cent women in our construction business when you’re recruiting from 17 per cent female graduates is a big ask,” McCann said.

Lendlease has achieved this by “reaching out beyond the traditional courses”, McCann explained.

Providing you’re an intelligent, capable person with ambition, you don't need to have studied engineering or construction to be successful in that industry.”


Capturing the diversity advantage

AMP Capital’s global head of real estate, Carmel Hourigan, agreed with McCann.

2019-03-12 09.03.39“Too often we take a narrow view of talent for new roles or promotions because we’re used to relying on the same old trusted individuals,” she said.

“But I’ve learnt that in doing so, we overlook individuals that don’t ‘fit the mould’ – people who bring different perspectives and experiences. In essence we’re missing out on the diversity advantage.

“Diversity drives innovation, and innovation drives diversity. Yet, it’s only with inclusion that the real impact of diversity thrives. This is why we are focused on inclusive leadership and unconscious bias training for all leaders.

“While we still have some way to go, by thinking differently, we’re helping make positive changes,” Hourigan said.


Seismic shifts underway

Selina Short, EY’s managing partner for real estate and construction, said that some “seismic shifts” were underway, notably around flexibility.

She pointed to the Grow the Talent Pool report, published in 2018 by EY and the Property Council, which found 22 per cent female respondents were attracted to property because of its “culture of flexibility”.

What’s more, “30 per cent of men said flexibility contributed to success in their careers”.

But Short also shared the statistic that she found most challenging. While 51 per cent of men think it is “extremely likely” that they’ll reach their career ambitions, just 28 per cent of women feel the same.

“And that goes back to actual cultural challenges. When women look up, they just don't see the role models at the level and scale,” Short said.

But Short was also optimistic that PMCC was heading in the right direction.

“Eight out of 10 men and seven out of 10 women said the industry had become far more diverse in the last two years,” Short said.2019-03-12 09.03.51

For McCann, the future of companies like Lendlease and our nation as a whole “hinges on our success at tapping into the broader and richer talent pool that not only focuses on women but harnesses all forms of diversity”.

"It means making some serious commitments to level the playing field and tackling it like we would any business issue – with baseline data, and regular, scrutinised and actioned reporting.

"When the numbers on gender diversity are in front of you, the issue is hard to ignore," he said.

Hourigan called on the private sector to be bold in their action.

“Be courageous when it comes to gender equality; when you are a leader your shadow is long.”